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Sikh Sovereignty 

Edited and Compiled by 
S.G.XB. Khalsa Post-Graduate (Evening) College, 
University of Delhi, New Delhi 

Foreword by 
Formerly, Professor of Political Science, 
University of Delhi, Delhi 



ISBN 81-7629-300-8 


All rights reserved with the Publisher, including the right to 
translate or to reproduce this book or parts thereof except 
for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews 

Printed in India at ELEGANT PRINTERS, 
A 38/2, Phase-I, Mayapuri, New Delhi-110 064 

F-159, Rajouri Garden, New Delhi-110 027 
Phones : 5435369, 5440916 



(Present Gaddi Nashin, Dera Baba Banda Singh Bahadur) 
who has dedicated his life for the cause of humanity 


My Teacher and Mentor 
Director Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi 
As a token of regard and affection. 



Foreword xi 

Preface xiii 

Acknowledgements xvii 


Relations under Guru Nanak (1469 A.D.— 1539 A.D.) 1 

Guru Angad Dev (1539 A.D.— 1552 A.D.) 7 

Guru Amar Das (1552 A.D.— 1574 A.D.) 8 

Guru Ram Das (1574 A.D.— 1581 A.D.) 9 

Guru Arjan Dev (1581 A.D.— 1606 A.D.) 14 

Prince Khusrau Meets Guru Arjan 21 

Jahangir's hatred for the Guru 22 

Guru Hargobind (1606 A.D.— 1645 A.D.) 27 

Succession of Shah Jahan 34 

Battle of Amritsar (1628 A.D.) 35 

Battle of Hargobindpur (1630 A.D.) 36 

The Battle of Lahra and Gurusar (December 1634 A.D.) 36 
The Battle of Kartarpur (April 26, 1635 A.D.) 37 
The Battle of Phagwara (April 29, 1635 A.D.) 38 
Guru Har Rai (1645 A.D.— 1661 A.D.) . 40 
Guru Har Krishan (1661 A.D.— 1664 A.D.) 41 
Guru Tegh Bahadur (1664 A.D.— 1675 A.D.) 42 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Guru Gobind Singh and Aurangzeb (1675 A.D.— -1707 A.D.) 53 
First Period (1675 A.D.— 1699 A.D.) 57 

Conflict with Kahlur 57 

First Battle of Anandpur (1682 A.D.) 59 

Second Battle of Anandpur (1685 A.D.) 59 

The Battle of Bhangani (April 16, 1689 A.D.) 61 

The Battle of Nadaun (1690 A.D.) 64 

Rustam Khan's Expedition against the Guru (1691 A.D.) 65 
The Expedition of Hussain Khan (1693 A.D.) 65 
Battles between 1694-96 A.D. 66 
Expedition of Jujhar Singh (1697 A.D.) 67 
Prince Muazzam's March into the Hills (1698 A.D.) 67 
Battle with Alam Chand and Balia Chand 68 
Fortification of Anandpur 68 
The Post-Khalsa Period (1699 A.D.— 1708 A.D.) 69 
First Battle of Anandpur (1699 A.D.) 69 
Second Battle of Anandpur (1699 A.D.) 70 
Battle of Nirmoh (1700 A.D.) 71 
Battle of Basali (1700 A.D.) 72 
The First Battle of Chamkaur (1702 A.D.) 72 
The Third Battle of Anandpur (1703 A.D.) 73 
The Fourth Battle of Anandpur (1703 A.D.) 73 
The Battle of Kiratpur (1704 A.D.) 74 
The Fifth and the Last Battle of Anandpur (1704 A.D.) 74 
The Battle of Bachhora Sahib on the River Sarsa 
(December 21, 1704 A.D.) 77 
The Second Battle of Chamkaur 
(December 22, 1704 A.D.) 77 
Fateh Nama 80 

Two Younger Sons of the Guru Executed 
(December 27, 1704 A.D.) 81 
The Zafar Nama 83 

The Battle of Khidrana (May 8, 1705 A.D.) 85 

Bahadur Shah and Guru Gobirid Singh 

(February 20, 1707 A.D. - October 7, 1708 A.D.) 87 

Contents ix 




Yamuna-Ganga Doab Region 166 

Rising in Majha 172 

Rising in Jullundur Doab 175 




8. EPILOGUE 234 
INDEX 271 


The identity of the Sikhs as a brave community for defending the 
society from inimical forces has been firmly established by Dr. Harbans 
Kaur Sagoo, especially by exemplifying the heroic deeds of Banda Singh 
Bahadur. A rich source material on a small slice of Sikh history has been 
used by the author to highlight the valour and achievements of Banda 
Singh Bahadur who battled against the mighty forces of the Mughal 

To recall, Aurangzeb's demise left a chaotic situation of internecine 
warfare when Jats, Marathas and Rajputs were all staking their claims of 
sovereignty and battling for survival against oppression and 
suppression, panting for air of freedom from domination. At this critical 
juncture, the emergence of JBanda Singh Bahadur heralded a new era by 
giving a clarion call of unity between all sections of society. Instilling 
righteousness, Dharma, upholding the dignity of the poor, he mobilised 
people to sacrifice personal and narrow interests at the altar of freedom. 
In the face of a serious challenge to the integrity of the nation, he fired 
the imagination of the masses for achieving a glorious future. 

Treating religion as patriotism par excellence, it is no wonder that the 
first Sikh State was launched under his remarkable leadership signifying 
the triumph of unity for liberation. The author has described this episode 
in great detail, thereby throwing light on some dark periods of Sikh 

This book can be of great use to scholars and common citizens 
curious about Hindu-Sikh relations as they have evolved in recent times. 
Certain misgivings on this issue giving rise to militancy and terrorism 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

might get erased from the political psyche of the people who browse 
through the painstaking efforts of Dr. Sagoo. 

While the contemporary relevance of this book cannot be overlooked, 
the mutual inspiration drawn from Hindu-Sikh scriptures cannot be lost 
sight of. The Gurbani echoes some of the finest moral homilies and 
political norms of the Vedantic and Epical theology. For example, Banda 
Singh Bahadur was imbued with the Dharma as preached by Lord 
Krishna to Arjun in the battlefield of the Mahabharata to take up sword 
against the enemy. 

I see in Dr. Sagoo's publication a heroic character a great value for the 
youth of our times the spirit of Rashtra Bhakti and a lesson to preserve 
and strengthen national unity and territorial integrity. With India under 
siege, this book needs to be prescribed for students of history in higher 
education levels. 

I congratulate the author for her timely endeavour. 

New Delhi 



Banda Singh Bahadur continues to be one of those few historical 
personages who have defied the judgement not only of his 
contemporaries but also of posterity. An attempt has been made here to 
study Banda Singh Bahadur's multi-dimensional role in an objective 
manner and setting at rest to the maximum possible extent the 
misgivings about him and his career. There can be no question that 
Banda Singh was a great man, one of the greatest that our land has 
produced. His life's mission was to protect the oppressed against the 
oppressor. He fought against injustice and tyranny of the Mughal rulers. 
He upheld the honour and dignity of the common man. It was he who 
introduced one of the greatest land reforms in the country by abolishing 
the zamindari system of the Mughals. After Guru Gobind Singh, it was 
Banda Singh Bahadur who brought about a radical change in the 
character of the Sikhs and taught them how to fight and conquer. History 
has upheld him as a patriot, a brave warrior, a lover of freedom, and a 
man whose struggle and sacrifices added to the dignity of life and 
enriched the pages of history. He lived and died like a true hero. The 
purpose of this study is to give an account of the life and achievements 
of Banda Singh Bahadur. 

After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D., the Jats, Marathas, 
Rajputs and other regional powers staked their claims for sovereignty in 
their respective domains and played an important role in disintegrating 
the Mughal empire. During this period of political upheavals, Banda 
Singh Bahadur was chosen to lead the Sikhs in their struggle against the 
Mughals by the tenth Guru. Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh 
taught the Sikhs to take to arms in self-defence or if the cause of justice 
and righteousness could not be otherwise vindicated. After meeting 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Guru Gobind Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur dedicated his life to an ideal 
without any fear of privation or death. With a single-mindedness of 
purpose that has few parallels in history, he resolved to carry on the 
battle of freedom for his countrymen. It was Banda Singh Bahadur who 
thought of establishing the Sikhs as a political power and in fact he 
succeeded in establishing the pioneer Sikh state after the conquest of 
Sarhind in 1710 A.D. 

However, Banda Singh Bahadur had to face overwhelming odds to 
lead the infant Khalsa against the Mughals who were yet too strong for 
him with inexhaustible temporal resources of the then greatest empire of 
the world. Whether at Sadaura or at Gurdas Nangal, it was the 
overwhelming numbers and the extremes of hunger, want of food, 
fodder and ammunition that turned the table against Banda Singh 
Bahadur. Mughal General Abdul Samad Khan proved his superiority 
because of greater resources. Hence this first attempt of its kind by Banda 
Singh Bahadur was not successful. But it went on to inspire the 
worshippers of equity and justice to sacrifice themselves at the altar of 
freedom. Externally, he may not appear to have succeeded in the 
emancipation of his people, but the fire of independence ignited by Guru 
Gobind Singh and fanned by Banda Singh was not to be extinguished. It 
was because of the exploits of Banda Singh Bahadur that a determination 
was instilled in the ordinary masses of Punjab to resist tyranny and to 
live and die for a national cause. It was the result of this will that the 
Hindus and the Sikhs together drove the Afghans and the Mughals in 
1763-64 A.D. out of their homeland and thus achieved freedom which 
they had come to regard as their birthright. 

Thus, Banda Singh Bahadur emerges as one of the most outstanding 
leaders that India produced in the eighteenth century. His courage, 
patriotism, devotion to a cause, indomitable spirit, fearlessness, sincerity 
and his earnestness has continued to inspire the future generations. No 
doubt his name has come to symbolize freedom, dedication and sacrifice. 

The author of the present volume has liberally drawn on the researches 
made on this subject by eminent scholars like William Irvine, Jadunath Sarkar, 
Ganda Singh, Hari Ram Gupta, Khushwant Singh, Gopal Singh, Sohan Singh 
Seetal, Muzaffar Alam, Attar Singh, Indubhushan Banerjee, A.C. Banerji, 
J.D. Cunningham, Chetan Singh, Fauja Singh, Indu Banga, Karam Singh, 
G.C. Narang, Piara Singh Data, Kahn Singh Nabha, Karam Singh, Mata 
Joginder Kaur, M.K. Gill, Satbir Singh, Rajpal Singh, Deol G.S., Surinder 
Singh, and some traditional Punjabi writers such as Rattan Singh Bhangu 



Giani, Gian Singh, Santokh Singh, Kesar Singh Chibbar, and Bhai Vir 
Singh. By making use of all the available and accessible source material, 
this author has tried to emphasise the historic role of Banda Singh 
Bahadur for raising the huge armed strength for the establishment of the 
pioneer Sikh state in Punjab, and as a liberator of the poor masses from 
the clutches of the tyrants. He had the acumen to plan and the ability to 
execute. After the tenth Guru, it is Banda Singh Bahadur's name that 
towers above all other Sikh leaders in the history of the eighteenth 

The process of transformation of the power structure initiated by 
Banda Singh Bahadur could not be completed during his life time. But 
the sustained efforts of this champion of the oppressed and suppressed 
masses kept on lingering in their memory and they naturally wished 
well of the Sikh movement. This was the major contribution of Banda 
Singh Bahadur to the Sikh movement that the peasants, even amidst the 
most terrible dangers, gave shelter and provided food to the Khalsa, in 
their struggle against the Mughals and the Afghans. In fact, Banda Singh 
Bahadur was a man of the masses whom they obeyed ungrudgingly and 
blindly. When he asked his followers to lay down arms, not one 
disobeyed him and piled up their arms before him, and doors were 
opened to the enemy to face sure death. He not only led the Sikh 
movement against the Mughals but broadbased it among masses to fight 
against tyranny and suppression. He broke the myth of Mughal 
invincibility. He wanted to prepare his supporters to fight for freedom — 
both political and economic. He wanted to infuse the spirit of self- 
confidence and sense of honour and dignity. He was neither a religious 
Guru of the Sikhs nor pretended to be -one. He was appointed their 
temporal leader, designated as Bakshi of the Khalsa by the tenth Guru and 
he accepted it smilingly. 



The author is grateful to the authors and publishers from whose 
publications she has extracted material to support or to critically analyse 
the arguments put forward in the work. Due acknowledgements have 
been made in the body of the book for the same. I would be failing in my 
duty if I do not express my special sense of gratitude to late Dr. Ganda 
Singh, without whose writings and pioneering work on Banda Singh 
Bahadur, this work would not have been possible. 

The author had the privilege of receiving help from a wide circle of 
friends and critics. She acknowledges with gratitude the affection and 
encouragement received from them all. I express my deep sense of 
gratitude to Dr. Mohinder Singh, Director, Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, 
New Delhi, for his help and guidance in the preparation of this work. He 
went through the entire manuscript and gave many valuable suggestions 
for improvement. I would also like to place on record my gratitude to my 
old teacher Dr. H.S. Chawla of the S.G.T.B. Khalsa College, University of 
Delhi, and Mr. J.C. Dua of the Dyal Singh College (Evening), University 
of Delhi, for their cooperation and encouragement to complete the work. 
The keen and loving interest taken by my friend Dr. Tajinder Pal Kaur, 
seniormost reader in the Hindi Department of the S.G.T.B. Khalsa Post- 
Graduate (Evening) College, University of Delhi, in my research work. 
She has been ever ready to lend me a helping hand. My thanks are due 
to Principal Harmeet Singh of the S.G.T.B. Khalsa Post-Graduate 
(Evening) College, University of Delhi, for his cooperation and 
inspiration to complete the work. I have also to acknowledge the 
encouragement I have received from Dr. Jaspal Singh, Indian High 
Commissioner to Mozambique and Swaziland, whose sound and sincere 
advice has greatly helped me in this endeavour. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

I shall be failing in my duty if I omit to acknowledge the ready 
assistance given to me by my friend and librarian, S. Wariam Singh of 
the S.G.T.B. Khalsa College, University of Delhi, during my research on 
the subject. I express my great appreciation for the help which 
Mr. Anand, Librarian of the Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi, 
has extended to me in several ways. I am also very thankful to 
Mr. Ravinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Mr. Kamaljit Singh of the 
S.G.T.B. Khalsa Post-Graduate (Evening) College Library, for their 
substantial assistance and kind cooperation. 

I am also grateful to the staff and manager, Golden Temple, Amritsar, 
for giving me all facilities during my stay in Guru Hargobind Niwas, 
while collecting the data for this book. 

My grateful acknowledgement is due to my young colleague 
Mrs. Shobhika Mukal of the History Department, for helping me in 
several ways. I also wish to express my gratitude to the Principal of the 
Mata Sundari College, University of Delhi, Dr. Mohinder Kaur Gill. She 
proved to be an encyclopedia on traditional sources of Sikh history. 

I gratefully acknowledge the work and active help and cooperation 
of my husband Mr. J.S. Sagoo, in connection with the preparation of this 
book. Without his support, my best efforts would have been futile. I 
apologize to my daughter Harleen for unforgivably neglecting so many 
of her simple demands during the period of my study. Words fail me in 
recounting what I owe to my brother S. Sohan Singh, and Baba Jatinder 
Pal Singh, the present Gaddi Nashin of Dera Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, 
for his valuable information and guidance about the sect and places 
related to Banda Singh Bahadur. 

In this book the rare photographs are taken by our friend and 
professional photographer Mr. Onkar Singh Palaha of Mumbai, who 
travelled extensively with us to do the job, which only an artist of his 
calibre could have done. I must record my sense of obligation to him. 

Above all, I am grateful to Professor M.M. Sankhdher for having 
accepted my request to write a Foreword. 

Finally, I bow my head to the Almighty God with whose blessings I 
have been able to accomplish this humble piece of research in the Sikh 



Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 

In order that we may fully appreciate the magnitude of the task which 
Banda Singh Bahadur undertook to perform and in order to fully 
comprehend his achievements, it is essential to make a brief survey of 
the Mughal-Sikh relations from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh (1469 
A.D. to 1708 A.D.). Punjab was always one of the most important parts 
of the Mughal empire. Since this period of the history of Punjab is 
mainly concerned with the development of Sikh religion and the lives 
and works of the Sikh Gurus, it would be interesting to note that Sikh 
history started with the start of the Mughal period. Punjab became a 
source of strength to the Mughals and to the Sikhs a source of life. We 
shall see how, when the one failed to provide justice and peace to the 
country, the other watched and ultimately rose to destroy the evil and 
reassert its independence. 


(1469 A.D .—1539 A.D.) 

The period of Sikh Gurus and the Mughal rulers coincided. One was 
a religious movement and the other political. The Mughals entered this 
country and brought about destruction and religious persecution. The 
Sikh Gurus resisted them and preached the message of peace. So one day 
a clash between the two was certain. Guru Nanak was a contemporary 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

of Babur, and Guru Gobind Singh of Aurangzeb, the last Mughal 
Emperor. Just as the Mughal power in India and Punjab continued to 
weaken after the death of Aurangzeb, Sikh power continued to develop 
and acquire strength, till, ultimately, the former was destroyed and the 
latter established itself. 

Guru Gobind Singh writes in Bichitra Natak, that from one side came 
Babur and from the other side came Guru Nanak. The clash was 
inevitable, as the Almighty Himself had desired it. 1 In the cold winter of 
1520-21, Guru Nanak was returning home from Baghdad through 
Khurasan and Afghanistan. He noticed tremendous excitement 
throughout these countries. On a call from Babur to invade India, 
youngmen were thronging in Kabul with horses and arms. Guru Nanak 
followed the traditional route via Herat, Kandahar, Ghazni, Kabul, 
Jalalabad, Khyber Pass, Peshawar, Attock and Hasan Abdal. Passing 
through Jhelum, Gujrat and Wazirabad, Guru Nanak halted at 
Sayyidpur, 56 kms north-west of Lahore. He put up with his old disciple, 
Bhai Lalo, who detained Guru Nanak for a sufficiently long time. Lalo 
complained to him about the oppression of the Lodi Kings, their officials, 
and the Pathans in general. The Guru replied that their dominion would 
end soon as Babur was on his way to invade India. The Guru said: 

As the word of the Lord comes 

to me, so do I utter, O Lalo. 

Bringing the marriage party of sin, 

Babur has hastened from Kabul and demands 

Perforce the gifts of wealth, etc. O Lalo. 2 

Guru Nanak was still at Sayyidpur when Babur entered Punjab. The 
Trans-Indus territory and the Sind Sagar Doab were already under him. 
He now seized Gujrat and Sialkot situated in the Chaj and Rachna 
Doabs, respectively, and appeared at Sayyidpur on his way to Lahore. 3 
The town was mostly inhabited by Hindu traders and zamindars. They 
offered considerable resistance in order to save their lives, honour and 
property. This infuriated Babur. He ordered a general massacre of the 
people. All the young women were reduced to slavery. The older ones 
were forced to grind corn and cook food for the troops. The town was 
looted and then destroyed by fire. 4 According to the Sikh tradition, Guru 
Nanak was also arrested at Sayyidpur. Guru Nanak and Lalo were forced 
to carry heavy loads of looted property on their heads to the camp and 
then to grind corn. 5 But when Babur was informed of the Guru's saintly 
character, 6 he saw him personally and begged his pardon. Babur was 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


very much impressed as a result of a conversation with the Guru. He 
ordered the Guru's release. But the Guru refused unless others were also 
released along with him. Thereupon Babur ordered all the prisoners to 
be set free. 7 However, this is not confirmed by contemporary Mughal 
records. There is a possibility that the Guru, who was greatly moved by 
the horrors and destruction brought about by the invader, should have 
personally interviewed him, though the incident might have been 
passed over by the Mughals as insignificant. 8 

Babur 's entry into India was not hailed by Guru Nanak. He, in his 
hymns, rather painted a very pathetic picture of Babur 's atrocities in 
Punjab in general and at Sayyidpur (Eminabad) in particular. He also 
condemned the Lodi Sultan for not offering a strong and united 
resistance to Babur and in one of his hymns he says: "No one would 
remember the name of Lodi dogs." The barbarous treatment of prisoners 
in the camp, particularly of women, broke the tender heart of Nanak. 
The shock and pain were too acute for him to bear. In his four hymns 
collectively called "Babur Vani" he says: 

God has protected Khurasan and brought terror to Hindustan. 
The creator takes not the blame on Himself 

and has sent the Mughals as Death's myrmidon. 
So much beating was inflicted that people shrieked. 
Didst Thou, O God, feel no compassion? 
Thou, O Maker, art the equal Master of all. 
If a mighty man smites another mighty man, 

then the mind feels not anger. 
If a powerful tiger falling on a herd, kills it, 

then its Master should show manliness. 
The dogs have spoiled and laid waste the priceless country 
No one pays heed to the dead 

O Lord, Thou Thyself joinest and Thyself separatest. 
Lo! This is thine greatness! 9 

The pitiable condition of captive women is described by Guru Nanak 
thus : 

The tresses that adorned these lovely heads, 

And were parted with vermilion, 

Have been shorn with cruel shears, 

Dust has been thrown on their shaven heads. 

They lived in ease in palaces 

4 Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Now they must beg by the roadside, 
Having no place for their shelter. 

When those whose heads are shorn were married 
Fair indeed seemed their bridegrooms beside them. 
They were brought home in palanquins carved with ivory. 
Pitchers of water were waved over their heads 
In ceremonial welcome, 
Ornate fans glittered waving above them. 
At the first entry into the new home 
Each bride was offered a gift of a lakh of rupees, 
Another lakh when each stood up to take her post in her new 

Coconut shredding and raisins were among the delicious 

fruits served to them at their tables. 
These beauties lent charm to the couches they reclined on. 
Now they are dragged away with ropes round their necks; 
Their necklaces are snapped and their greatest enemies now. 
Barbarous soldiers have taken them prisoners and disgraced them. 

Few, some very few, 
From this havoc returned home, 
And others enquire of them 
About their lost dear ones, 
Many are lost for ever, 

And weeping and anguish are the lot of those who survive. 10 

Babur's soldiers made no distinction between Hindus and Muslims 
while outraging their modesty. Rape was committed mdiscriminately. 
The women who suffered were Hindustani, Turkani, Bhatiani and 
Thakurani. Guru Nanak says about them in Adi Granth. 

There were the women of Hindus, Muslims, Bhattis and Rajputs 
The robes of some were torn from head to foot and 
some had their dwellings in the cremation ground 
How did they, whose handsome husbands 
came not home, pass their nights? 11 

It was this open condemnation of the prevailing political debauchery 
which distinguished Guru Nanak from the other Bhakti reformers. Guru 
Nanak was the first Indian reformer who started a war of thoughts 
against tyrannical rulers and prepared the way for the future clashes 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


between the Mughals and the Sikhs. He imparted political consciousness 
to his followers. It meant the Sikhs would not sit quietly like the recluse 
and saints closing their eyes towards what was happening around them. 
They would rather challenge the evil and sacrifice their lives as Guru 
Arjun, Guru Teg Bahadur, Bhai Mati Das and thousands others did to 
eradicate it. Such utterances of the Guru added a political element to the 
Sikh character which developed slowly but surely into a separate realm 
of their own, however unconscious of it the Sikh Gurus themselves 
might have been. In fact, says Dr. G.C. Narang: "After centuries of 
subjection, Nanak was the first among the Hindus to raise his voice 
against tyranny and oppression. " 12 Later it developed into a clash 
between the Mughals and Guru Hargobind, and thereafter between 
Mughals and Guru Gobind Singh which changed the Sikhs into Singhs, 
a nation of lions, the Khalsa. 

Guru Nanak was a strong opponent of imperialism: political, 
religious, social and economic. He openly challenged the Lodi rulers and 
condemned the invasion of Babur. While condemning the destruction 
brought about by Babur, he did not hesitate in censuring even the 
Almighty who considered Khurasan as his own but sent Mughals, the 
messengers of death, to India. So much destruction was wrought, but he 
did not feel pity. 13 Guru Nanak was a great statesman indeed. He saw 
the world suffering under imperialism of different types and full of evil. 
Instead of renouncing the world and going over to jungles, he 
challenged the imperialists and denounced them most harshly. So, in 
fact, Guru Nanak did lay the foundations of a revolution which was 
completed by the time of Guru Gobind Singh. It is asserted, for instance, 
that he thought of the political disabilities of his people. 14 It is also said 
that he was the first medieval Indian saint to condemn war and to 
denounce exploitation. 15 "Who knows that given the means which Guru 
Gobind Singh has at his disposal with the work of ten generations which 
has prepared the ground for him, Nanak would have met the situation 
in the same way in which the former did in his own time afterwards." 16 
G.C. Narang also believes that the "steel" for the "sword" of Guru 
Gobind Singh was provided by Guru Nanak. 17 Indubhushan Banerjee is 
of the same view when he says that the future Sikh "Nation" grew from 
the foundations provided by Guru Nanak. 18 For another writer, there is 
no question of "transformation" of Sikhism from Guru Nanak to Guru 
Gobind Singh. The difference between them is only a "difference of 
accent." 19 It is suggested by some other scholars that the apt phrase to 
use is "transfiguration" for there was "no break, no digression in the 
programme of Sikh life". 20 The order of the Khalsa, far from being a 


Banda, Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

contingent phenomenon dictated by the exigencies of the moment, 
appears to be "a logical development and entelechy of the teachings of 
Guru Nanak." 21 So it is clear that Guru Nanak did lay the foundation of 
a revolution which was completed by the time of Guru Gobind Singh. 

Guru Nanak, perceiving the true principles of reforms, struck at the 
root of all social and religious disabilities which had crippled the Hindu 
society. He felt the need, and laid the foundation, of a new national 
consciousness that might enable his followers, not only to stand erect 
and united against oppressors, but also to be the instrument of uprooting 
political tyranny. This was a task not to be achieved in a life-time or two. 
Hence, it was that he deliberately decided upon the system of succession 
of Gurus till the work of nation-building was complete with the true 
instincts of a gifted reformer, he diagnosed the malady and proceeded 
with the necessary treatment in a calm, scientific way. He realized that 
much as he resented the oppression of the rulers and the political 
bondage of the people, he could not, all at once, prepare the latter to 
march into the battlefield against their political oppressors. He felt that 
before the wider liberation could be attempted, the masses had to be 
emancipated from the social and religious oppression of their 
coreligionists. As long as they were content to bear one sort of slavery, 
they could not rise to throw off another, which was still more galling and 
far more degrading. About the political concerns of Guru Nanak 
Dr. Gokul Chand Narang wrote thus: "that the Guru felt keenly the 
barbarous inhumanities perpetuated by the then Mohammadan rulers is 
evident from some of his poems or Shabads wherein he depicts the 
ghastly scenes being daily enacted before him. His heart melted in agony 
at the cruel spectacle, but, just then, he could do nothing towards 
ameliorating the condition of the Hindus by either of the two methods 
of political work, 'Constitutional agitation would have failed because 
there was no constitution in India. Active resistance of the ruling 
despotism was out of question because the Hindus were too weak to 
make any effective resistance." Even S.M. Latif, an ardent advocate of the 
idea that Guru Nanak had no political ideals, says that once Guru Nanak 
was arrested and imprisoned under the Emperor's order, on the charge 
that he was preaching doctrines which might prove dangerous to the 
state. Dr. Gokul Chand Narang further says that Guru Nanak contended 
himself, for the time, with planting the germs of his contemplated Sikh 
nation in the minds and hearts of the people. The work of his nine 
successors was in strict conformity with his ideals and consisted in 
gradually giving a "local habitation and a name". "To the ideals of Guru 
Nanak . . . Gobind himself, in fact, as well as his work, was the natural 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


product of the process of evolution that had been going on ever since the 
foundation of Sikhism. The harvest which ripened in the time of Guru 
Gobind Singh had been sown by Nanak and watered by his successors." 
Guru Nanak never advocated the life of pure Bhakti, unconcerned with 
the political conditions of the country on which the life of the common 
man depended. If a ruler resorted to tyranny, it was the duty of a 
religious man to fight against it. Guru Nanak, when arrested and 
brought to the presence of Babur by Mir Khan, called Babur a "tyrant" 
on his face, and asked him to stop destruction and senseless killing of the 


(1539 A.D.— 1552 A.D.) 

After Guru Nanak, Guru Angad succeeded to the pontificate, and 
after Babur, Humayun came to power. The work of elevation and 
liberation started by Guru Nanak was continued by Guru Angad. He 
collected and reduced to writing the hymns, as well as account of the life 
and travels of Guru Nanak, and took the initial steps towards the 
organization of the budding nation. Guru Angad gave Sikhs an 
individuality of their own. The Institution of langar (free kitchen) started 
by Guru Nanak and popularised by Guru Angad, was a distinctive 
feature of the Sikh sect. It developed the spirit of equality and 
brotherhood amongst the people, and gave a crushing blow to the caste 
system and the social hierarchy based on birth. In other words, this was 
the first step that encouraged people to sit together, dine together and 
consider themselves members of one family. As a matter of fact, the 
institution of langar was the first step towards developing a society on 
political lines, as people learnt to assemble at a fixed place as members 
of one family, regardless of race, wealth, sex, caste, occupation or 
religion. 22 

The Sikh tradition says that after his defeat by Sher Shah on May 17, 
1540 A.D. at Kanauj, Humayun made his way to Lahore and learnt of the 
way of some "wonder working priest" 23 who could restore to him his 
kingdom. He was informed by one of his associates of the greatness of 
the late Guru Nanak and of the succession of Guru Angad to his spiritual 
sovereignty, and was advised to seek his assistance. Upon this, 
Humayun, taking offerings with him, proceeded to Khandur in Amritsar 
district. Guru Angad was in a deep trance, and Humayun was kept 
waiting for some time. The Mughal Emperor, thereupon, lost his temper 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

and put his hand on the hilt of his sword with the intention of striking 
the Guru. The Guru undaunted by this behaviour addressed him 
fearlessly like Guru Nanak, who addressed Babur as tyrant on his face: 
When you ought to have used your sword against Sher Shah, you 
proved to be a coward and fled the battlefield, and now posing as a hero, 
you wish to attack a body of men engaged in their devotion. 24 On 
hearing the Guru's admonition Humayun felt ashamed, begged his 
forgiveness and received his blessings 25 and thereafter took leave from 
the Guru, crossed the Indus with great difficulty, and made his way to 
Iran. 26 The Guru might have resented Humayun's attitude towards him, 
but he bore no ill-will against the Emperor. The Guru was an 
embodiment of forgiveness. He attached no importance to this incident 
and ignored it altogether 27 


(1552 A.D.— 1574 A.D.) 

About four years after Guru Amar Das succeeded to the pontificate, 
Akbar came to power as the Emperor of India. Akbar possessed the spirit 
of religious toleration and so long as he ruled India, the relations 
between the Mughals and the Sikh Gurus remained very cordial and 
friendly. Emperor Akbar was different from his predecessors and 
ancestors. He respected saints of all religions and paid them homage 
while touring through his Empire. He held the Sikh Gurus in great 
reverence. After suppressing the rebellion of Bairam Khan in 1560 A.D., 
Akbar, on his way to Lahore, visited Guru Amar Das at Goindwal and 
was greatly impressed to see the working of the Guru's free kitchen 
(langar). He also sat on the floor in the Pangat and took his meal. The 
Sikhs, both men and women, working in the kitchen had so deeply 
impressed Akbar with their humility, spirit of service, feeling of 
reverence for the Guru as well as for the Emperor, and devotion to God 
that he offered a few revenue-free villages for the support of the langar. 
The Guru respectfully declined saying that the langar depended solely on 
the offerings of the Sikhs. Akbar could not go without making a present. 
On hearing that the Guru's son-in-law, Jetha, the future Guru Ram Das, 
was in search of some land in the heart of Majha, the Emperor granted 
a tract of land not far from Chubbal to Bibi Bhani. The Guru could not 
refuse a gift to the girl. A.C. Banerji writes that a visit by Akbar to Guru 
Amar Das in Goindwal was a friendly tribute to the Guru's saintly 
character 28 Santokh Singh writes: 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Pata pargane ka likh dm, 
Rahen gram sab Guru adhm 
Ad Jhabal bir jeh karyo, 
Bohte gram arap mard bharyo 29 

Baba Budha is said to have been appointed by the Guru to manage 
the property. There is no doubt that Akbar's visit to Goindwal greatly 
increased the Guru's prestige and popularity and resulted in adding a 
large number of new followers to Sikhism. 

At this time Akbar, along with his large escort, camped at Lahore for 
a long time. As a result, the prices of essential in that city and in the 
adjoining areas rose. When the next harvest was ready, Akbar prepared 
to march off, leaving behind a strong possibility of sudden fall in the 
prices to ruin the peasants. The Guru is said to have sent a request to 
Akbar who in response to it remitted the entire land tax for the year. 30 


(1574 A.D.— 1581 A.D.) 

To know the Sikh-Mughal relations under Guru Ram Das, we should 
go back to the social reforms of Guru Amar Das. Guru Amar Das 
initiated a number of social reforms. He denounced the practice of Sati 31 
and openly asked his followers to re-marry the widows. According to 
him, opportunities should be created for widow remarriage so that the 
widowed women were able to lead a normal, socially respectable life and 
should not fall victim to temptation. 32 Guru Amar Das settled down at 
Goindwal to guide the destiny of the Sikhs. By constructing a baoli (large 
well), by reforming the institution of free and common kitchen, by 
dividing his spiritual empire into twenty-two provinces (manjis) by 
introducing new ceremonies for birth and death, he contributed a lot 
towards the cultural and social evolution of his followers. 

As an instance of the social evolution brought about by Guru Amar 
Das, it may be noted that when he constructed a baoli at Goindwal, he 
preached among his disciples that they could wash away all their sins by 
having a dip there, and thus the Sikhs were discouraged from going to 
the Hindu places of pilgrimage. The foundation of this baoli marked a 
highly significant step in the history of Sikhism, as Goindwal developed 
into a very important place of worship, which prompted the Sikhs to 
abandon the practice of going far away from Punjab to have a holy dip 
at Haridwar, Prayag, Varanasi, Cuttack or Puri, especially as most of the 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

people could not afford to go to these distant places. It also led to the 
Sikhs being disassociated from the old and extravagant customs of the 
Hindus prevalent in those places. The Guru reformed the langar already 
in vogue and initiated by his predecessors. The langar was intended to 
feed those who were unable to work and also those who came to the 
Guru from distant places in connection with the worship. This 
institution helped in removing untouchability which was a great curse 
within the Hindu society. "Langar proved a powerful aid in the 
propaganda work. Besides serving as an asylum for the poor, it also 
became a great instrument for advertisement and popularity and it gave 
a definite direction to the charities of the Guru's followers." 33 

The Guru divided his spiritual empire into twenty-two manjis (seats). 
The number of Sikhs had greatly increased and it was very difficult for 
the Guru to deliver instructions in person to all his disciples. This system 
(manjis) went a long way in strengthening the foundations of the Sikh 
religious order. He also introduced new ceremonies for birth and death, 
and asked his disciples to perform these ceremonies differently from 
those of the Hindus, which were very orthodox and uneconomical. He 
decried the practice of calling Hindu priests for the performance of death 
and marriage ceremonies, which now became very simple and 
inexpensive. He popularised Punjabi language and Gurmukhi script, 
since the Guru thought it would be better to present his message in the 
language of the people. The Brahmins delivered their instructions in 
Sanskrit, which they deemed the language of the gods, but it was not 
commonly understood by the people. On this account, all the Sikh Gurus 
had composed their hymns in the language of the people, and enshrined 
them in the Gurmukhi characters so that men and women of all castes 
and creeds read and understood them. He made efforts to discourage the 
practice of female infanticide prevalent in many backward classes. The 
Guru considered female infanticide a curse. He enjoined upon his 
disciples that they should give equal affection to male and female 
children. He vehemently denounced purda and prohibited drinking 

The preaching of the Sikh view by Guru Amar Das had upset the 
orthodox because the tenets of the Sikh creed were in total opposition to 
the orthodox Hindu practice. These tenets were entirely unacceptable to 
the Brahmins. There was no scope for the caste system, ritualistic 
practices and repetition of Mantras in the Sikh philosophy as expounded 
by the Gurus. The Brahmins realised that in spite of their opposition, the 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Sikh organisation was becoming more powerful, and the Sikh religion 
was acquiring a distinct identity. 

The city of Goindwal had been founded by a man named Gonda 
Marwaha who was a staunch follower of the Guru and at whose 
invitation the Guru had settled down at that place. After Gonda's death, 
the opponents of the Guru, Brahmins, Jogis, Sadhus and Sheikhs, etc., 
incited the son of Gonda, Marwaha Khatri, 34 who was a village 
headman. The enemies of the Guru told him 35 that he was the actual 
owner of the land on which the town of Goindwal had sprung up. The 
Guru had occupied the land illegally. So he should evict the Guru. Under 
the influence of these enemies of the Guru, Marwaha Khatri started 
creating difficulties for the Guru and his Sikhs, 36 the mischievous boys 
of the town started throwing stones at the pitchers of the Sikhs as they 
went to fetch water. The Guru, however, told his Sikhs to remain 
peaceful under all provocations. 37 

Marwaha Khatri hit upon a plan to harass the Guru. He demanded 
that the Guru should give him a part of the offerings made by his 
disciples as an acknowledgement of his overlordship as he was the real 
owner of the land, otherwise he should quit the town. The Guru told 
him that he had not usurped land belonging to him and he was not 
prepared to accept any interference in the way of life as laid by the 
Gurus. If he needed food and ration for himself and his friends he could 
get these from the langar but the Guru was not ready to pay even a single 
penny from the offerings of Sikhs to acknowledge his overlordship. 38 

Marwaha Khatri made a complaint against the Guru at Lahore. He 
stated that a. fakir had been allowed to settle on his land but he had taken 
illegal possession of his lands. He pleaded that the case should be 
investigated and the Guru evicted. Nawab Jaffar Beg came to Goindwal. 
He saw for himself that the Guru was a devotee of God and always 
absorbed himself in meditation. He was opposed to none and free meals 
were served at the langar to one and all, without any discrimination. He 
dismissed the complaint made by Gonda and left for Lahore. 39 

After giving a crushing defeat to the Afghan forces, Akbar was 
camping at Lahore. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the opponents 
of Guru Amar Das approached Akbar and complained that there was a 
faair at Goindwal who had founded a -new religion 40 by completely 
violating the customs and practices laid down in Hindu Shastras and 
Smritis. Mahma Prakash gives a description of this incident: The Brahmins, 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Khatris and Muslims went together to the king to make a complaint. 
Emperor Akbar had risen to power. They said that the traditions and 
institutions of four varnas disappears from the world. He does not repeat 
the Gayatri Mantra. He asks the people to meditate on Waheguru. This has 
never happened in all the four yugas. Rejecting srutis and smritis he has 
set up his own cult. 41 The Brahmins called Akbar the protector of the 
traditions and prayed to him to save the Hindu religion from being 
destroyed. On hearing the complaint of the Hindus of Goindwal he 
called a messenger and sent a letter to Guru Amar Das at Goindwal. In 
this letter he had requested the Guru to pay a visit to Lahore. 

Guru Amar Das examined the letter from Akbar. He called Bhai Jetha 
(Guru Ram Das) and asked him to go to Lahore to talk to Akbar 
regarding the complaint made by their detractors and to acquaint the 
Emperor with the Sikh way of life. Bhai Jetha left for Lahore. From the 
fact that Jetha was sent to Lahore to represent Guru Amar Das, it became 
very clear that the Guru was sure that Bhai Jetha would be able to 
present the correct picture of the Sikh way of life to Akbar. It also 
indicated that the Guru had made up his mind to appoint Bhai Jetha his 
successor otherwise he would have not sent him on such a delicate 
mission of great importance. Before Jetha departed, he instructed him 
that there was no need to fear Akbar and that he must talk to Akbar with 
courage and answer his questions accurately and with integrity. 42 

Bhai Jetha reached Lahore and stayed at his birth place, Chuna 
Mandi. Akbar asked both the parties to present their case the next day. 
Apart from the high officials of Akbar, the Brahmins who had complained 
against the Guru were present in the court. Gonda's son (Marwaha 
Khatri) was the leader of this group. A list of all the complaints and 
objections raised by the detractors of the Guru was read out to Bhai 

The main objections were that Guru Amar Das, and before him Guru 
Angad Dev and Guru Nanak Dev had set up a new religion which 
violated the customs and traditions sanctified by the shastras. The Guru 
did not believe in casteism and was trying to, create a community by 
uniting all the four castes. Bhai Jetha replied to these objections with 
such maturity and clarity that the courtiers were wonderstruck. He said 
that "In kaliyug meditating on the Name of God and praise of the 
Almighty through the singing of Gurbani is our worship. The discourses 
of the Guru and his instructions are just like shastras for us. Regarding 
the caste system, our position is that God has made man equal. A man 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


does not become high or low for the simple reason that he has been born 
in an exalted or a low family. That man alone is worthy of esteem whose 
actions are good and whose life is full of truth and love of mankind and 
who loves God and worships him and fears him. Sikhism does not 
believe in the caste system." Bhai Jetha also explained the Guru's point 
of view regarding idol worship and pilgrimage to holy places. He said: 
"The presence of God can be felt everywhere. The Sikhs do not believe 
in the worship of idols. We are of the view that the mind of man is as 
holy as Kashi and sixty-eight other places of pilgrimage. We can 
understand our mind with the help of meditation on the True Name and 
through understanding the essence of the shabad."^ 3 

It is said that Akbar was so much impressed with the arguments of 
Bhai Jetha that he declared that the detractors of Guru Amar Das were 
only liars and turned them out of his court. Dr. A.C. Banerji has written 
that Akbar felt that there was nothing in the teaching of the Sikh Gurus 
which might be considered to be in opposition to the Hindu religion. 44 
Bhai Jetha won a historic victory for the spread of the Sikh religion. It 
evoked respect in the mind of Akbar for the Sikh way of life, and created 
in him the desire to pay homage to Guru Amar Das and actually visited 
Goindwal in 1560 A.D., (as already discussed under Guru Amar Das). It 
marked the beginning of the era of friendship between the Sikh Gurus 
and the Mughal kings. As a result, the Sikh religion and the Sikh 
organisation gathered so much strength in the next century that even the 
active opposition of the government to the Sikh Gurus after the death of 
Akbar, could not do any damage to the new religion. 

It appears that this incident took place in the year 1557 A.D. Guru 
Ram Das has hinted at the embarrassment caused to Marwaha Khatri in 
the court of Akbar and among friends and relations in a shabad written 
by him. 45 The failure of efforts made by the Hindus of Goindwal and the 
establishment of good relations with the Mughal court resulted in a 
further increase in the influence of Guru Amar Das. After Guru Amar 
Das Guru Ram Das became the new Guru. We have already discussed 
how Bhai Jetha, who later on became Guru Ram Das, visited the court 
of Akbar. So the friendly relations between Akbar and Guru Ram Das 
continued. Bhai Jetha was asked by Guru Amar Das to select a place for 
himself 46 At a distance of 40 km. from Goindwal he chose a jungle site 
surrounded by villages of Gilwali, Gumtjiala, Sultanwind and Tung 
having a sacred pool of water. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

It was a common land or ShamlaT Deh, and seemed to have been 
granted by Emperor Akbar with the consultation of the chaudharis of 
these villages who must be following in the train of the Emperor 
according to an old-custom and practice. The digging of the tank was 
started in 1577 A.D. This is considered as the foundation year of 
Amritsar. According to the Gazetteer of Amritsar District, "in 1577 he 
obtained a grant of the site, together with 500 bighas of land from the 
Emperor Akbar on payment of Rs. 700 Akbari to the Zamindar of Tung 
who owned the land. 47 There he dug a tank to which he gave the name 
of Amritsar, the tank of nectar, 40 km. north-west of Goindwal. Thus the 
relations between Guru Ram Das and Akbar were very cordial. Akbar 
never obstructed the Sikh movement in any way. Rather he favoured the 
Sikh Gurus whose views and ideas he admired. It is also said that Akbar 
visited Amritsar in 1577 and offered 101 gold coins to the Guru (Guru 
Ram Das) 4i3 Guru Ram Das nominated his third son Arjan, a youngman 
of eighteen, to be his successor, since he was the ablest and the most 
promising. Guru Ram Das died in September 1581 A.D. 49 

Simple and saintly life of the Gurus (Amar Das and Ram Das) and 
their disciples, the prevailing sense of equality fostered by the institution 
of langar, devotion to God, absence of ritualism, meditation and fervour 
for social reforms created an abiding sense of goodwill for the Gurus and 
their disciples in the mind of Akbar. As a result, the Sikh movement 
which was still in its infancy, could strengthen itself during the next fifty 
years when many detractor of the Sikh faith approached the royal 
authorities with complaints against the Guru. But they failed to achieve 
any success in their nefarious activities. Their complaints were rejected 
by Akbar who told them that they were jealous of the Gurus and their 
complaints were baseless. It was during Akbar 's rule that the city of 
Amritsar was founded, Harimandar was built and Guru Granth was 
compiled. The credit for establishing cordial relations with Akbar goes to 
the third and fourth Gurus. The reign of Akbar in the Sikh history has 
been called the era of goodwill and friendly understanding. 


(1581 A.D.— 1606 A.D.) 

Akbar was the Emperor of India even when Guru Arjan Dev came to 
the pontificate in 1581 A.D. So long as Akbar lived his friendly relations 
with Guru Arjan Dev continued. As a result of the teachings of the first 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


four Gurus, a distinct community appeared on the scene, which differed 
from its neighbours in religious outlook, social customs and latent 
political ideals. They had a common object of worship — God — and a 
common source of diyine knowledge — their Guru. The pride of caste, on 
one side, and the sense of inferiority, on the other, had been replaced by 
a sense of love and brotherhood. The rising nation was growing in 
strength and organization, and was coming into prominence. Guru Arjan 
Dev, "who was a born poet, a practical philosopher, a powerful organizer 
and a great statesman," 50 supplied what was wanting. He compiled the 
sacred Book for the guidance of the faithful and installed it in the Golden 
Temple at Amritsar. He developed a regular system for the collection of 
the affectionate offerings of the Sikhs, so that they might serve the 
purpose for which they were meant, namely, the advancement of the 
nation's cause. He made his darbar resemble a princely court in 
splendour and magnificence. He laid the foundation of the future Sikh 
cavalry by encouraging adventure and enterprise, and inducing them to 
buy horses from Turkistan and sell them in India. He also exhorted his , 
followers to take to various profitable trades, crafts and occupations. 
This raised the economic status of the community. It also taught the 
Sikhs the lesson of self-help, self-reliance and mutual cooperation. 

The teachings of the Sikh Gurus had from the beginning attracted 
converts equally from amongst the Hindus and the Muslims. Whole 
villages with hundreds of Muslims bowed before the Gurus and became 
their disciples. Up to the time of Akbar, the Mughal Emperors had not 
interfered much with this peaceful movement of conversion by 
persuasion and demonstration of lofty ideals in actual life. 

Guru Arjan Dev set himself the task of consolidation and 
organisation of the Sikhs. He went on tours, preaching and organising 
Sangats or congregational worship, which he declared to be of greater 
merit than individual worship. He reorganised and gave a permanent 
character to those missionaries who had been appointed by his 
predecessors to spread the Sikh religion and collect the offerings of the 
faithful. The Sikhs were exhorted "to give a tithe of their substance to 
God". In a way, such offerings were made compulsory. The masands and 
their deputies, called meoras, collected the offerings from place to place. 
"This band of Guru's agents {masands) were stationed in every city from 
Kabul to Dacca, wherever there was a Sikh, to collect the tithes and 
offerings of the faithful; and this spiritual tribute, so far as it escaped 
speculation by the agents, reached the central treasury at Amritsar". 51 
They were not allowed to use this revenue so collected for their own use. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Thus a steady flow of revenue to the central treasury at Amritsar was 
assured, which made it possible for the Guru to found towns like Tarn 
Taran, Amritsar, Kartarpur (Jullundur) and undertake extensive building 
and excavation operations. In the middle of the Amritsar tank he began 
to build the Golden Temple, which was calculated to become a central 
place of worship for the Sikhs — a sort of Kaba 52 of the Muslims. 

In the early years of the pontificate of Guru Arjan, some of the 
Mughal officials in the Punjab like Sulhi Khan took up the cause of the 
pretender, Prithia (elder brother of Guru Arjan Dev) and tried to create 
trouble for the Guru. Prithia even tried to poison the ears of the Emperor 
against the Guru, but all his attempts failed. 53 Akbar, throughout his 
reign, remained friendly to the Sikh Gurus and the Persian historian of 
his reign, Badaoni, tells us that the Emperor visited Goindwal to see 
Guru Arjan whose teachings and character he appreciated. 

Akbar 's Prime Minister and court historian, Abul Fazl, writes in 
Akbar Nama that Emperor Akbar crossed river Beas at Goindwal on an 
elephant while his army passed over by a bridge. The Emperor called at 
the residence of Guru Arjan on November 24, 1598 A.D. Guru Arjan was 
then 35, in the prime of life. His attractive and handsome appearance, 
sweet and melodious voice, and fascinating and charming manners, his 
princely style of living, his warm reception of the Emperor, and his 
singing of the hymns, deeply impressed Akbar. Sujan Rai Bhandari gives 
greater details of this meeting. "When his Majesty left Lahore and 
reached the neighbourhood of Batala, he came to know that a fight had 
taken place in the house of Achal between Musalman Faqirs and a group 
of Hindu Sanyasis. The Muslim Faqirs prevailed and by way of retaliation 
they demolished the temples there. His Majesty King Akbar in order to 
do justice against the excesses committed, put many of them into prison 
and ordered that the demolished temples should be built anew. From 
there he crossed the river Beas and visited the dwelling place of Guru 
Arjan, successor of Baba Nanak, who was famous for divine love. The 
Emperor was highly pleased to meet him and with his recitation of the 
hymns of Baba Nanak in praise of God. Guru Arjan offered him a 
suitable present out of regard for his visit. He represented that during 
the stay of the imperial army in Punjab, the price of grain had gone up, 
and the revenues of parganas had been increased. Now on the departure 
of royal troops the price of corn would come down. It would be difficult 
for the subjects to pay the enhanced revenue. The Emperor acceded to 
his request and issued orders to his chief Diwan to reduce the revenue 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


by l/6th. He instructed that the revenue must be charged according to 
the concession granted and nothing more should be demanded." 54 The 
Emperor's visit considerably raised the prestige of the Guru. The rural 
traders and peasants of the Majha became Sikhs in large numbers. 

The most valuable achievement of Guru Arjan was the compilation 
of a holy book for the Sikhs known as Adi Granth and popularly called 
Granth Sahib or Guru Granth. In Sikhism worship consisted of singing the 
hymns of Gurus. The Guru wished to lay down the exact hymns to be 
sung at particular hours of the day and correct rituals to be performed 
by the Sikhs. This was necessitated by the fact that his elder brother, 
Prithi Mai, who had been excluded from Guruship was composing his 
own hymns and was spreading them among the Sikhs as those of Nanak 
and other Gurus. Guru Arjan also desired to raise the status of Sikhs 
from the followers of a sect to that of a religion. This object could be 
attained by providing the Sikhs with holy scriptures of their own, like 
the Vedas, the Bible and the Quran. He, therefore, decided to collect the 
hymns of all the Gurus including his own in the form of a book in 
Gurmukhi script. The research for material began soon after Akbar's visit 
early in 1599 A.D. Adi Granth was completed in July 1604 A.D. and 
contained 3384 hymns and 15,575 stanzas. Of these, 13,658 stanzas are 
composed by Gurus and 1917 stanzas are the compositions of other 
saints and bards. It contains the Bani of five Gurus, fifteen saints and 
seventeen bards. The original Granth Sahib was installed in Hari Mandir 
at Amritsar on 16 August 1604 A.D. Baba Budha was appointed the first 
Head Granthi. The original copy of the Adi Granth of Guru Arjan exists 
in the Gurdwara at Kartarpur near Jullundur. 55 

The compilation of the Adi Granth formed an important landmark in 
the history of the Sikhs. It became the sacred book of the new faith and 
created consciousness among the Sikhs of their being a separate 
community It served as a source of divine wisdom, felicity and bliss. Its 
fascinating hymns chanted in deep reverence and devotion inspired the 
minds of listeners to lofty ideas of simple living and high thinking. The 
-Granth serves as the symbolic representation of the Gurus, who are came 
to be represented as a single person, Nanak, the light of whose soul 
passed on to each of his successors one by one. The hymns established 
a deep spiritual unity between man and God. The hymns of Bhakta 
represent three schools of thought, Vaishnavism of Ramanand, Krishna 
cult of Surdas and Sufism of Farid. The Adi Granth is like the holy water 
of the Ganga. Everybody, men or women, rich or poor, high or low, 
Brahmin or shudra, white or black people, can have a dip without any 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

restriction. The Ganga water washes dirt, cools body and refreshes mind. 
Similarly, the Adi Granth purifies heart, stimulates mind and animates 
the soul. 

The Granth is a repository of many languages. The Guru's hymns are 
in a mixture of Hindi and Punjabi. The compositions of Ramanand and 
Kabir are in Hindi. Farid's verses are in Punjabi. The language of 
Trilochan and Namdev is Marathi. Adi Granth contains words of Lahndi, 
Persian and Sindhi also. 

The Adi Granth embraces territorially the whole of India and people 
of all castes and creeds. The Gurus themselves and Farid, a Muslim saint, 
belonged to Punjab, Surdas to Haryana, Kabir, Ramanand and Ravi Das 
to U.P., Jaideb to Bengal, Namdev and Trilochan to Maharashtra, Sain to 
Madhya Pradesh, Dhanna to Rajasthan, and Sadhna to Sind. As regards 
religion, Farid and Kabir and Mardana were Muslims. Of the Hindu 
castes Jaideb, Ramanand and Surdas were Brahmins. The Gurus were 
kshatriyas. Trilochan was a vaish, Namdev, Ravidas, Sadhna and Sain 
were shudras, and Dhanna was a Jat. The Adi Granth is indeed the 
greatest work of Punjabi literature. 

In 1605 A.D. Emperor Akbar was at Batala during his visit to Punjab. 
A complaint was lodged with him by the opponents of the Guru that the 
Adi Granth contained some passages blasphemous to Islam. The Emperor 
called for the Granth to his presence. The Guru sent it in the custody of 
Bhai Gurdas and Baba Budha. Bhai Gurdas, who had written every word 
of it, assured the Emperor that there was nothing against Islam and, on 
the contrary, it contained hymns of Muslim saints. Akbar got the Granth, 
read out at random in the presence of learned qazis and pandits. On the 
first opening of the Granth, a hymn said: We are all children of our father 
God. On the second opening it stated: God pervades all his creation and 
the creation resides in him. When there is nothing but God whom should 
one blame. On other pages also there was praise of God. The Emperor 
was satisfied. He made an offering of 51 gold coins to the Granth and 
awarded robes of honour for the Guru and to both the custodians of the 
Granth. 56 

The liberal policy of Akbar gave the Sikh Gurus an opportunity to 
carry on their socio-religious work as best as they could. The Emperor 
saw nothing particularly objectionable ^either in the movement or in the 
organisation. Guru Arjan Dev's period of Gurgaddi coincided with the 
latter half of Akbar 's reign, a period of intellectual quest when Akbar 's 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


restless, inquiring mind sought the revelation of absolute truth from 
somewhere. Sikhism might have hoped to make considerable progress, 
but for its being an eyesore to the landed and religious aristocracy of the 
Punjab. Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi bitterly opposed Guru Arjan's activities. 
Unfortunately, the tolerant and friendly Emperor Akbar died in 1605 
A.D. and was succeeded by his fanatic son Jahangir. Under him the 
conspirators against the Guru got all the opportunity for their activities 
which resulted into the Guru's martyrdom of being tortured to death. 

Guru Arjan's popularity with Emperor Akbar and people of Majha 
and Doaba, his achievements in building up the Hari Mandir and 
compiling the holy Granth and his style of living had become to his 
enemies a matter of great agony and anguish more than flesh and blood 
could bear. One of his enemies was his own elder brother Prithi Mai who 
was living at Amritsar. The second enemy Sulhi Khan Lived at Batala, the 
district headquarters, third, Chandu Shah, lived at Lahore, fourth, 
Shaikh Ahmed Sarhindi at Sarhind, and the fifth, Emperor, or Jahangir 
himself, at Delhi. 

Prithi Mai and his son Meharban called themselves the real Gurus. 
Both of them had composed hymns and called them as those of Guru 
Nanak. Meharban wrote a Janam Sakhi of Guru Nanak in which he 
glorified his father and discredited Guru Nanak. 57 He composed a 
Sukhmani in opposition to Guru Arjan's Sukhmani. 58 Both father and 
son were plotting against Guru Arjan. 

Sulhi Khan, the second enemy of the Guru, was the Mughal officer 
of Batala district. He was determined to bring about Guru's ruin. Under 
severe persecution the Guru had to leave Amritsar for Chheharta. He 
was so bitterly hostile to him that the Guru mentioned him in his hymns 
in the Adi Granth. God rescued the Guru from Sulhi's clutches. One day 
while riding a new horse he was trying to gallop. Something frightened 
the horse who, perhaps due to some wild honey bees, fled headlong into 
the field in the direction of a smouldering brick kiln. The horse sank into 
the hollow ground of the kiln along with its rider who was firmly 
holding its reins and both were burnt alive. Guru Arjan refers to this 
incident in Adi Granth: 

God preserved me from Sulhi, 
Sulhi by no means succeeded, 
Sulhi died unclean, 

God drew forth his axe and smote off his head, 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

and in a moment he become ashes. 
He was consumed ever meditating evil, 
He who created him thrust him into the fire. 59 

Chandu Shah, a Khatri of Lahore, a third enemy of the Guru, held an 
important post in the finance ministry at Delhi. He was in search of a 
groom for his daughter. Messengers were sent to find out a suitable 
match. One of them recommended Hargobind, son of Guru Arjan. 
Chandu Shah remarked: "What if He hath many followers liveth on 
offerings, which is an ignominious form of livelihood." He further added 
that the proposal amounted to putting "the ornamental tile of a top 
storey into a gutter." 60 But being persuaded by his wife, Chandu Shah 
agreed, and conveyed the proposal through a messenger. His remarks 
about the Guru were soon known to the Sikhs living in Delhi. They 
requested the Guru to turn down the proposal. The Guru did so. Further 
persuasion by Chandu Shah proved of no avail. He went in person to 
soothe the Guru with a lakh of rupees; but it was too late; for the Guru 
declared: "My words are engraved on stone, and cannot be effaced. If 
you give me the whole world as a dowry with your daughter, my son 
will not marry her." 61 

In those days Sarhind was the stronghold of Naqashbandi order. The 
first millennium or a period of one thousand years of the foundation of 
Islam was over and the second millennium had begun. Shaikh Ahmad 
declared that the first millennium belonged to Prophet Muhammad and 
the second millennium to him. He took the title of qayum or the deputy 
of God. The whole universe including the sun the moon and the earth 
was under his control. Nobody's prayer could reach God unless it was 
first accepted by him . . ._. He had a large number of followers. They 
designated him Majaddid Alif Sani, meaning controller of the universe in 
the second millennium. 

The Shaikh was extremely jealous of Guru Arjan's popularity and 
power. He "made the revival of orthodoxy something of a movement". 62 
He made use of the royal power as "Jahangir himself was inclined 
towards the purification of beliefs and practices". 63 It is said that "Shaikh 
Ahmad eradicated the godlessness of Akbar's reign, forced the court to 
reform its etiquettee, and made a large number of Muslims in the army 
and the court". 64 He was given the title of "Reviver of the second 
millennium", and the "Godly Imam". Tiie Shaikh greatly incited Jahangir 
against Guru Arjan when he called at Sarhind in pursuit of Khusrau. The 
Shaikh also exercised great influence on the courtiers of Jahangir. 65 The 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Shaikh declared Guru Arjan Kulah-e-Sharik and Imam-e-Kufr. Jahangir 
was greatly influenced by the Shaikh. 

The orthodox Muslim ulama, all political leaders and the Muslim 
population, had deeply resented Akbar's policy of liberalism and 
toleration. The liberal element at the court was in a very small minority. 
They favoured Akbar's grandson and Prince Salim's son Khusrau as the 
emperor in the absence of law of succession in the Mughal Empire. The 
orthodox group which was in very great majority, supported Prince 
Salim (Jahangir), the only living son of Emperor Akbar. They extracted 
a definite and solemn promise from Prince Salim to reverse Akbar's 
policy as the price of their support. The leaders of orthodox ulama were 
Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi and Shaikh Farid Bukhari. 66 Under their 
influence Prince Salim had administered poison to Akbar in 1591 A.D. 
from which the Emperor had survived. In 1601 A.D. he openly revolted 
against his father and assumed the royal title. In 1602 A.D. he got Prime 
Minister Abul Fazl murdered because he was the greatest supporter of 
Akbar in his liberalism. 67 The Sayyids of Barha, well known for their 
religious zeal and bravery, were won over by the ulama in favour of 
Salim. The prince took solemn oaths to restore orthodoxy, punish the 
liberal group, and destroy non-Muslim movements. 68 

Prince Khusrau Meets Guru Arjan 

After the death of Akbar on October 17, 1605 A.D., the throne was 
contested by Prince Khusrau. His mother was Jodha Bai, daughter of 
Udai Singh, Raja of Jodhpur. He was born in 1592 A.D. On Khusrau's 
capture, she took poison and died on May 6, 1606 A.D. 69 Salim 
eventually succeeded under the title of Jahangir. Khusrau managed to 
escape from Agra fort on April 6, 1606 A.D., and made for Punjab. The 
Prince had already met Guru Arjan in the company of Akbar and knew 
him to be a sage and one who could provide him help/shelter. He 
sought benediction of the Guru at Tarn-Taran where Guru Arjan was 
then staying. Guru Arjan, as in the case of every visitor of high position, 
particularly of the royal family, warmly received him by applying a 
saffron mark on his forehead according to ancient custom of India. 
Applying the tilak implied only honourable reception and not blessing 
the prince with sovereignty. Mohsin Fani says that the Guru offered 
prayer for the Prince. 70 The prayer indicated a wish for the safety of the 
individual as the Prince was on a difficult journey and not for his cause. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

The Guru was an embodiment of moral virtues and could not bless a son 
in rebellion against the father. He could not forget the case of his own 
elder brother who had revolted against his father. The Guru could never 
contemplate involving himself in the struggle for the throne. For a rebel 
against parents there is absolutely no room in Sikhism. This is 
considered as one of the most reprehensible acts. 

The Prince then begged the Guru to help him with money. Guru 
Arjan replied that his money was meant for the poor and not for princes. 
Khusrau humbly pleaded that he was also very poor, needy, forlorn and 
in distress and did not possess even travelling expenses for his proposed 
flight to Kabul. The Guru was moved at the thirteen-year old Prince's 
sad plight, humility and the miserable state he was in, being hotly 
pursued by the Mughal army and the Emperor himself. According to 
Macauliffe, Khusrau was provided with a few thousand rupees. Beni 
Prasad in his history of Jahangir puts this amount at Rs. 5000. 71 

Jahangir's hatred for the Guru 

Jahangir hated Guru Arjan for several reasons. He was opposed to all 
those who had been in Akbar's good books. Secondly, Shaikh Ahmad 
Sarhindi incited Jahangir against Guru Arjan when he halted at Sarhind 
in pursuit of Khusrau. Thirdly, Shaikh Farid Bukhari was leading the 
vanguard of the army which was pursuing the Prince. He was the first 
leader to know about Khusrau's visit to the Guru. He declared that the 
Guru should have captured him and ought to have handed him over to 
the Emperor. He, therefore, considered the Guru a rebel. Jahangir also 
took the same view. He wrote in his autobiography: 

"A Hindu named Arjan lived at Goindwal on the bank of river Beas 
in the garb of a Pir and Shaikh. As a result many of the simple minded 
Hindus as well as ignorant and foolish Muslims had been persuaded 
to adopt his ways and manners and he had raised aloft the standard 
of sainthood and holiness. He was called Guru. From all sides 
cowboys and idiots became his fast followers. This business had been 
flourishing for three or four generations. For a long time it had been 
in my mind to put a stop to this vain affair (dukan-e-batil) or to bring 
him into the fold of Islam. In these days when Khusrau passed along 
this road, this foolishly insignificant fellow (mardak-e-majhul) 
proposed to wait on him. Khusrau happened to halt at the place 
where he lived. He came and met him. He discussed several matters 
with him and made on his forehead a finger mark in saffron. In the 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


terms of Hindus it is called Qashqa and is considered propitious. 72 In 
pursuit of Khusrau Jahangir halted at Goindwal while his army had 
gone ahead after Khusrau. Jahangir writes: "I call God to witness that 
while at Goindwal, at this perilous crisis, I experienced some strong 
forebodings that Khusrau was coming to my presence." Just then the 
news came that royal forces were victorious and Khusrau had been 
taken prisoner. 73 

Khusrau was arrested on the eastern bank of river Chenab on April 
26, 1606 A.D. He was produced before Jahangir on May 1 and was 
partially blinded. The Emperor then summoned Guru Arjan to Lahore. 
The Guru had realized that being surrounded by enemies on all sides his 
end was near. Before his departure he consoled his wife Ganga thus: 

"This body abideth not for ever. Wherefore a wise person should not 
love it. Whatever is born perisheth and whatever is high falleth 
sooner or later. This is nature's law . . . live thou when I am gone, 
mourn not for me and make no effort of thine own to separate thy 
soul from the body." 74 

Jahangir asked the Guru why he had helped Khusrau. The Guru 
replied that he gave him some money for his journey and not to help him 
in rebellion against him. He was in a wretched condition. He had to 
show him some consideration out of regard for Emperor Akbar who had 
been very kind to him. Heartlessness and ingratitude were opposed to 
the principles of Guru Nanak's house. Jahangir did not feel satisfied. He 
wanted to punish him with death. But on the recommendation of Mian 
Mir commuted it by a fine of two lakhs of rupees and ordered him to 
efface certain versus in the Adi Granth. Guru Arjan replied: "Whatever 
money I have is, for the poor, the friendless and the stranger. If thou ask 
for money thou mayest take what I have, but if thou ask for it by way 
of fine I shall not give thee even a kauri, for a fine is imposed on wicked 
wordly persons and not on priests and anchorites. And as to what thou 
hast said regarding the erasure of hymns in the Granth Sahib, I cannot 
erase or alter an iota." 75 

The Sikhs of Lahore showed willingness to raise subscriptions to pay 
the fine. The Guru issued strict injunctions not to do so. Jahangir 
wrote: "I ordered that he should be summoned. His houses, camps and 
sons were given to Murtza Khan. 76 His property and cash were 
confiscated. I issued instructions that he should be put to death by 
torture." 77 Murtza Khan deputed Chandu Shah to confiscate the Guru's 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

property, and he fleeced the Guru's family of everything of value. 
Trilochan Singh in his book Guru Tegh Bahadur states: "According to this 
order, Guru. Arjan was no doubt tortured to death, but the rest of the 
order was definitely stayed by the intervention of saint Mian Mir. 
Neither were the houses and children made over to Murtza Khan nor 
was the property confiscated." 78 The same view is held by Khushwant 
Singh, who writes: "The Emperor's order to arrest the Guru's family and 
confiscate his property was not carried out." 79 Dr. Hari Ram Gupta 
States: "This is an unjustifiable assumption that Guru Arjan was fined 
Rs. 2 lakhs is admitted by all. The fact is that the Guru's property was 
confiscated, but it did not fetch two lakhs in those days when prices 
were extremely low. Besides who was going to buy Hari Mandir and 4 
or 5 tanks built by Guru Arjan? There is further reference to the 
confiscation of Guru's houses and lands in Akhbarat-e-Durbar-e-Mualla. 
On December 30, 1711 A.D., Emperor Bahadur Shah, having failed to 
capture Banda Bahadur on his way to Lahore, while passing through 
Amritsar, ordered "the release of the long confiscated lands of Chak 
Guru, Amritsar, in the name of Ajit Singh mentioned in the Akhbarat as 
the son of Guru Gobind Singh." 80 

The Guru Arjan was imprisoned in the Lahore fort. May -June are the 
hottest months there. He was subjected by Chandu to different types of 
torture. He was seated on a hot pan, tavi, for hours together, burning 
sand was poured on his head and the heat of the month of May was 
itself made the worst use of. Boiling water was poured on his naked 
body at intervals. His body was covered with blisters all over. Even in 
this agony the Guru used to utter: 

Tera Bhana mitha lage 

Har nam padarath Nanak mange 81 

Meaning: Whatever you ordain appears sweet 
I supplicate for the gift of Name 

On hearing the news of Guru Arjan's tortures, Mian Mir came to see 
him. At the sight of the Guru, the Muslim saint shed tears of blood. He 
cursed the government for these atrocities on an innocent man of God. 
In his agony he began to cry. He said he would pray for the destruction 
of such a cruel government. The Guru, though writhing in pain, calmed 
Mian Mir. He said this was the will of God, and no man should try to 
obstruct the working of His will. He expressed satisfaction at the saint's 
visit. He said it had brought him cooling breeze in the burning heat. 
Sorrow had given place to joy. Whatever was happening, it must be 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 



taken for one's good and must be cheerfully accepted. The Guru forbade 
the saint to do anything against the government. Mian Mir prayed and 
left the Guru with a heavy heart. 82 

According to some historians, after five days of tortures with blisters 
all over his body, the Guru asked for permission to go to the Ravi (river) 
for a bath, which was granted by Chandu. With blisters all over his body 
when the Guru plunged himself into the cold water of the Ravi it caused 
him a shooting pain of which he died and the swift current carried away 
his body. This took place on May 30, 1606, A.D. 83 The Guru was only 
forty-three years old. Gurudwara was later on erected at the site on the 
bank of river Ravi opposite the fort of Lahore, popularly called Dera 

The Sikh tradition considers it an act of religious persecution. It is 
true the Sikhs at this time formed only a religious society. They had no 
political aspirations. The authority of the Mughal emperors fully 
accepted and implicitly obeyed. The Sikh allegiance to the state was 
complete. Akbar's patronage to the Sikh Gurus was highly appreciated 
and their loyalty to the Mughal empire was firm. It is also a fact that 
Jahangir was biased against Sikh religion. 84 Beni Prasad in his History of 
Jahangir declares it to be a political execution. But the fact is that Guru 
Arjan's martyrdom was mainly a religious case coupled with local and 
personal jealousy and enmity. Whatever the case might be, there is no 
doubt that Guru Arjan set the noblest example of courage and boldness 
in resisting the wrongs of a mighty power on earth, and thus sowed the 
seed which was to bear fruit in due course. Trumpp says: "Guru Arjan's 
death is great turning point in the development of Sikh community, as 
from that time the struggle commenced that changed the entire character 
of reformatory religious movement." 85 

Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi expressed utmost delight at Guru Arjan 
being tortured to death. In a letter written to Shaikh Farid Bukhari, then 
entitled Murtza Khan, the Governor of Punjab, he said: "The execution 
at this time of the accursed Kafir of Goindwal . . . with whatever motive 
... is an act of the highest grace for the followers of Islam." 86 He added 
that the Hindus should be treated as dogs. Jazia should be imposed upon 
them and cowslaughter should be allowed in the open 87 

The sacrifice of Guru Arjan is a milestone in the history of the Sikhs. 
At the time of his death, Guru Arjan left the following message to be 
taken by his followers to his son Hargobind: "I have succeeded in 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

effecting the object of my life. Go to my son the holy Hargobind and give 
him from me ample consolation. Bid him not to mourn or indulge in 
unmanly lamentation but sing God's praises .... Let him sit fully armed 
on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his ability. Let him 
affix the patch of Guruship to his forehead according to an ancient 
custom and even treat his Sikhs with the utmost courtesy." 88 Here was 
a seed of revolution sown which germinated and transformed the 
character of the Sikhs from mere saints into saint-soldiers who later 
challenged the mightiest of the oriental empires and who later rolled 
back the flood of the never-ending foreign invasions across the river 

C.H. Payne writes in his book A Short History of the Sikhs: "Before his 
departure, Guru Arjan had installed his son on the gaddi and impressed 
upon him the seriousness of the situation which had developed in the 
land. 'Hard Times are ahead', added he, 'the forces of evil are out to 
crush all vestige of even the elementary human rights. The house of 
Guru Nanak, from its very foundation, stands for love, truth, freedom, 
and self-respect. We have tried to carry on our work of emancipation in 
perfect peace and non-violence. But you see the result. The sight of their 
own cruel actions has deformed the soul of the Mughals. It may yet be 
possible to awaken it and make it assume the human form that it is 
losing fast. I shall let the Emperor witness the infinite suffering caused 
by his orders and borne for the love of God and man. This might shake 
up his soul. But if even this last measure of peaceful suffering fails, then 
take it from me, that his soul has been completely brutalized. It would 
be as unwise to bear further sufferings with the idea Of debrutalizing the 
souls of the Mughals as to throw oneself before a horned beast with the 
object of making him give up his brute nature. Times are coming when 
the forces of good and evil must come to grips. So we get ready, my son. 
Gird up, arm thyself, and urge the followers to do the same. Fight the 
tyrants till they are reformed or banished/ 89 So Guru Arjan had seen 
clearly that it was impossible to preserve his followers without the aid 
of arms and his last injunction to his son and successor, Hargobind, was 
to sit fully armed on his throne and maintain the largest military force 
he could muster." 90 

In a short time after Guru Arjan's martyrdom, as Macauliffe writes, 
the Guru changed his character from a mere religious to a spiritual-cum- 
military leader 91 It was as a result of this that Guru Hargobind later on 
began to raise an army, he gave martial tunes to the Sikhs to sing their 
songs upon, and took to hunting and physical exercises. Guru Arjan's 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


martyrdom, writes Khazan Singh, 92 inflamed the peaceful Sikh hearts. It 
set the ball rolling and generated the spirit which later on converted the 
ordinary "hewer of wood and drawers of water" into the greatest of 
soldiers and generals of the time. The Sikhs burned with the spirit of 
revenge and prepared to learn the art of swords and battlefields. 

The sacrifice also opened a new chapter in Sikh history, of Sikh 
persecutions. As the Sikh zeal to take revenge strengthened, the wave of 
arrests, fines and threats to the Sikhs spread. The more an effort was 
made to suppress them, the more the Sikhs burnt with the fire of 
enthusiasm and sacrifice. A precedence had been set which was 
strengthened by the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, and which was 
converted into a tradition when the tenth Guru sacrificed all of his home 
and hearth to protect the just interests of mankind. The tragic death of 
the Guru, says Teja Singh, "convinced the Sikhs that they must arm 
themselves and fight, if they wanted to live". 

Thus, with the martyrdom of Guru Arjan begins the period when the 
Sikhs, besides striving for spiritual bliss, began to prepare themselves to 
defend their hearths and homes against the Mughal tyrants. The death 
of their beloved and innocent Guru taught them a lesson that without 
political freedom, it was difficult to obtain spiritual salvation. Like the 
blood of all other martyrs, the blood of Guru Arjan went a long way to 
bring home to the Sikhs that they must organise and arm themselves. 
According to Sikh tradition discussed earlier, Guru Arjan, even in his 
"parting message" to his disciples, foretold the future course that his 
successor, young Hargobind would follow. 


(1606 A.D.— 1645 A.D.) 

The pontificate of Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru, is a period of 
great significance in the Sikh history. It was a period of transition when 
Sikhism was being transformed from a brotherhood of pious devotees to 
an organisation of soldier-saints. The martyrdom of Guru Arjan had 
made such a deep impression on his son and successor, Guru Hargobind 
who was then a boy of only eleven years of age, that he decided to give 
practical shape to the parting message of his father, "let him sit fully 
armed on the throne and maintain an army to the best of his ability." The 
boy Guru perceived that if Sikhism was to'survive, it must make certain 
adjustments in its character and organisation. He felt that thereafter his 
Sikhs should lead a pious and righteous life and worship the Name, on 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

the one hand, and, on the other, they should be physically prepared and 
trained to bear arms to defend their hearths and homes against the 
Mughal tyrants. The Guru, therefore, decided to follow this new policy 
and during forty years of his pontificate, he was able to achieve the ideal 
that he had placed before him at the time of his accession to the 

The germs of this new policy can be traced to the time when Baba 
Budha, just after Guru Arjan's death, was going to confer Guruship on 
Hargobind. According to the usual custom, he (Baba Budha) brought a 
seli (a woollen-cord worn as a necklace by the former Gurus) and a 
turban, and offered the new Guru to wear them. But Guru Hargobind, 
putting them aside, said to the head priest, Baba Budha: "My seli shall be 
a sword-belt and I shall wear my turban with a royal aigrette/' 93 He told 
his disciples that in future in the Guru's house, "religion and wordly 
enjoyment shall be combined — the cauldron to supply the poor and the 
needy, and the scimitar to smite the oppressors." 

So, Guru Hargobind, from the start, tried to play a dual role — the role 
of helping his disciples to work for their salvation" by worshipping the 
true lord on the lines suggested by the first five Gurus, and also 
preparing and training his disciples to bear arms to defend their lives, 
honour and rights. It was, thus, the Guru began to dress himself in 
martial style and wore two swords, one representing his Miri or secular 
authority, and the second signifying his Piri or spiritual power. Thus, the 
sixth Guru's ideal before his Sikhs was that they should have an all 
round development — development of body as well as of spirit, and his 
two swords represented that the Guru would, in future, not only guide 
his Sikhs in their spiritual affairs but also would lead them if ever there 
was a danger to their lives or worldly belongings. 

He laid the foundation of AM Takht in 1606 A.D. The Central Temple 
of Amritsar, or the Hari Mandir had so far been the only place where the 
Guru addressed his Sikhs and conducted their affairs. But now a new 
building was constructed a few paces beyond, where on a raised 
platform he began to attend regularly to the Sikh temporal affairs. 
Regarding this writes Archer: "He completed a shrine which Arjan had 
begun, the Akal Takht or the throne of the Timeless." 94 Khazan Singh calls 
it Akal-bunga or the house of God". 95 The use to which this new building 
was put, introduced considerable change in the Sikh character and 
organisation. Here the Guru sat like a king and administered justice to 
the Sikhs. Here also he accepted offerings and checked the accounts of 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


the masands. Duels were fought below and the Guru enjoyed them from 
here. Here the Guru also told his Sikhs heroic tales, and prepared them 
mentally for heroic deeds. "There was a definite purpose in the Guru's 
building of the Akal Takht just opposite the Hari Mandir. The former was 
connected with Sikh politics, while the latter with religion, and each was 
visible from the other place so that when they were in the Akal Takht they 
should not forget their religion, and while they were in the Hari Mandir 
they should not forget their politics. In other words, it was the blending 
of Sikh politics with Sikh religion'. Thus, Khazan Singh writes: "He said 
that as long as he continued in Hari Mandir he should be reckoned as a 
saint, and in Akal Bunga he should be looked upon as a king." With all 
these developments the Sikhs actually stopped looking towards Delhi or 
Lahore. They felt they had their own kingdom with Guru Hargobind as 
their king, nay the Sachcha Padshah, or the True King, as against the false 
kings of the Mughals. 

Guru Hargobind also maintained a well-equipped retinue. Mohsin 
Fani says that the Guru maintained a big stable of 800 horses. He had 
three hundred troopers on horse back and sixty men with fire arms ready 
to lay down their lives for the Guru. Besides these, there was a corps of 
500 volunteers who received no salary from the Guru, but they got 
horses and weapons from the Guru, took meals from the Guru's langar, 
or free kitchen, and had sworn themselves to offer their lives for the 
Guru. As with the inauguration of the new policy, the Guru required a 
large number of horses and weapons, he issued an encyclical letter to the 
masands to the effect that he would be pleased with those who brought 
offerings of arms and horses instead of money. As the Guru was very 
fond of hunting, his retinue also included a number of drummers, dogs 
of the finest breed, and tamed leopards. 

The Guru, however, did not depend wholly on this small standing 
army of his bodyguards. In course of time, he recruited a large number 
of mercenaries — mostly malcontents and refugees from the Mughal 
government. There was a special force consisting of Pathans led by 
Painda Khan. The Guru fortified his possessions also. A wall was built 
round the city of Ramdaspur and this new fortified town began to be 
called Lohgarh. 

These major changes in the policy and programme of the Guru 
naturally involved some minor changes in the day-to-day routine of the 
Guru. For example, with the adoption of the policy of armed defence, the 
Guru began to spend a major portion of his time in the game of the 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

chase. He began to devote a good deal of time in hearing martial music 
from his minstrel, Abdullah. He withdrew all prohibitions on diet, 
including animal food. He also introduced the practice of choirs 
circumambulating the Golden Temple in the night, "with the blare of 
trumpets and flare of torches and singing hymns in stirring tones". 96 

The change in the policy was in fact the only course open to the 
Guru. Banerjee who has made a thorough and critical study of the 
Guru's career, says: Both externally and internally the situation was 
changing and the policy of the Guru had perforce to be adjusted to the 
new environment. The organisational development of Sikhism had 
mostly taken place during the tolerant days of Akbar who had never 
interfered with it; he had, on the contrary, even helped the Gurus in 
various ways. But the execution of Guru Arjan, and Hargobind's 
imprisonment, definitely showed that sterner days were ahead and that 
the old policy of the mere peaceful organisation no longer sufficed. Guru 
Arjan had foreseen and Guru Hargobind also clearly saw that it would 
no longer be possible to protect the Sikh community and its organisation 
without the aid of arms and the way in which he proceeded to secure 
this end speaks a good deal for his sagacity and his shrewd political 
sense. 97 

Thus, he did not adopt his new policy because he was not as 
spiritually developed as his predecessors were, but because he, as head 
of the new community, felt that the old policy of peaceful organisation 
could no longer protect his infant church. With the change in the policy 
of the Mughal emperors towards Sikhism, the Sikhs foresaw wisely that 
Sikhism should be converted from a brotherhood of devotees to a 
militant sect. If Hargobind had not followed this policy then his 
"community of pious householders" would have either not survived or, 
at the most, "relapsed into the limited merit or utility of monks and 


The reports against king-like and war-like activities of the Guru 
aroused the anger of Jahangir. The Emperor was persuaded to believe 
that Guru Hargobind intended to raise the banner of revolt. He had 
visited Punjab in 1606, 1607 and 1608 A.D. The Guru's enemies (Prithi 
Mai and his son Meharban, Chandu Shah and his son Karam Chand, 
Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi and Shaikh Farid Bukhari — (Murtza Khan, 
viceroy of Punjab) must have lodged complaints against him personally. 
Jahangir ordered the Guru to pay the balance of the fine of two lakhs 
imposed upon Guru Arjan after deducting the amount already realised 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


by auctioning his property. 98 Mohsin Fani writes: "He had to content 
with difficulties. One of them was that he had adopted the style of a 
soldier, wore a sword contrary to the practice of his father, kept a retinue 
and took to hunting. Hazrat Jannat Makani (Jahangir) demanded the 
balance of the fine which he had imposed on Arjan Mai." 99 

Guru Hargobind was summoned to Delhi. Hargobind entrusted the 
secular affairs of the Sikhs to Baba Budha and control of spiritual duties 
to Bhai Gurdas, though Baba Budha continued to work as high priest of 
Hari Mandir. At Delhi, the Guru stayed at Majnun Ka Tila on the bank 
of river Yamuna where Guru Nanak had lived with the Muslim Saint 
Majnun in the reign of Sikandar Lodi. Large crowds of Sikhs came to see 
him. Jahangir found him a handsome and plucky youth and received 
him courteously. He asked him several questions but Jahangir did not 
feel satisfied. With regard to fine, Hargobind advanced the old argument 
of his father. He said he had not committed any crime and he would not 
pay any fine. As for his taking to hunting and wearing arms, no 
restrictions had been imposed by the government on its subjects. About 
his holding courts, the Guru submitted that it concerned only religious 
matters. There was no politics behind it, and he did not preach anything 
against the Emperor or his government. He assured the Emperor that he 
was a loyal subject of his Majesty's government and always abided by its 
laws. 100 

Jahangir invited the Guru to join him in a hunting expedition, when 
Hargobind displayed his skill by slaying a tiger. The Emperor took the 
Guru with him on a visit to Agra. Most likely Jahangir wanted to admit 
Guru Hargobind to his Mansabdari system so that the soldiers of the 
Guru could be used for the empire and the risk of revolt from the side 
of Guru would also be over. On the way to Agra, the Emperor sounded 
the Guru number of times and purposely became very friendly. He also 
asked a number of questions and discussed about religion. Jahangir 
asked many spiritual questions and Guru's replies very much impressed 
the Emperor. He asked why he was called the true king which implied 
that the Emperor was a false king. The Guru replied: "I have never told 
any one to call me true king, but when there exists love between people, 
there is no need of formality and a man is treated as he treateth others. 
I love my Sikhs in proportion to the love they bear me." 101 When 
Emperor failed to pursuade the Guru to join Mansabdari system, he 
arrested the Guru and ordered that he should be imprisoned in the 
Gwalior Fort, where generally the important political offenders were 
kept. The Sikh chroniclers, however, say that the Guru was not arrested. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

He became a victim of Chandu's intrigue. Chandu had not liked the 
friendly relations of Jahangir and the Guru and so he conspired against 
the Guru. At Agra, the Emperor fell ill. Due to Chandu Shah's instigation 
the astrologers told Jahangir to imprison Hargobind to avert the serious 
consequences of the evil stars. Hargobind was, therefore, confined in the 
fort of Gwalior, without specifying any duration. But Mohsan Fani's 
account seems to be more reliable. He says that the Emperor had not 
liked Guru Hargobind's policy of armed defence and, on the pretext of 
extorting the fine from the Guru, he arrested him and sent him to the fort 
of Gwalior. 

But the historians do not agree as to the exact period of his 
confinement at Gwalior fort. Mohsan Fani says that he remained there 
for 12 years. Indubhushan Banerjee and Teja Singh, after a careful and 
analytical study of the important events of Guru Hargobind's career, 
such as the births of the children of the Guru, have proved conclusively 
that the Guru could have in no way spent such a long period in Gwalior. 
Banerjee says that at the most he remained in Gwalior for five years from 
1607 to 1612 A.D. But Teja Singh held the view that he might have 
remained in Gwalior fort for two years at the most, from 1612 to 1614 
A.D. According to Sikh tradition, the Guru's period of confinement in 
Gwalior was only "forty days". On account of such a wide disagreement 
among historians, it is difficult to determine the exact period of the 
Gwalior imprisonment of the Guru. This much, however, is certain that 
the period of confinement was very short and could not be 12 years or 
even 5 years. 

The more rational view is that if the Guru was arrested due to his 
war-like activities, he must have carried such activities to a considerable 
length before he was arrested. We must, therefore, allow at least four 
years for his preparations so that they should be of a magnitude 
sufficiently high as to move the Mughal authorities against him. Thus, if 
we permit four years on this score, the Guru should have been 
imprisoned for about two years, and he was positively released 
sometimes in 1612 as his eldest son Gurditta was born in 1613 A.D. So 
he should have been in the fort for about two years from 1610 to 1612 
A.D. It could be even less than two years; but it seems certain that the 
period of his confinement was between 1610 A.D. to 1612 A.D. 

During the period of confinement of the Guru, the Sikhs made 
Gwalior their place of pilgrimage. Crowds of Sikhs visited Gwalior, 
touched and kissed the walls of the fort which held their persecuted 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Guru. Some of the devoted Sikhs like Bhai Jetha pleaded with the 
Emperor about the innocence of the Guru. Even a well-placed Mughal 
official Wazir Khan requested Jahangir that the Guru was the victim of 
a conspiracy and so should be released. Similarly, some of the 
Mohammaden saints like Mian Mir, for whom Jahangir had great regard, 
assured the Emperor of the saintliness of the Guru. At last Jahangir felt 
that the Guru had suffered because of the evil minded Chandu and 
ordered that the Guru should be set at liberty. When the orders reached 
Gwalior, a large number of captive Rajas, who were also imprisoned 
there, expressed great attachment for the Guru. Consequently, Guru 
Hargobind informed the Emperor that he would go out of the Gwalior 
Fort only when all other fellow prisoners were set at liberty. At last, the 
Emperor yielded and allowed all to go out of the fort, each holding a part 
of his garment. For, this noble act, the Guru earned the title of Bandi 
Chhor Baba or a 'Holy Deliverer ', and a cenotaph bearing this epithet still 
exists in Gwalior fort. 

From the time of his release to the end of Jahangir 's life, the Guru 
maintained very cordial relations with the Mughal Emperor. As the 
Emperor had realised that the Guru and his father had suffered a good 
deal because of Chandu, so, immediately after the Guru's release, he 
handed over Chandu and his family to him to punish them in any way 
he liked. 102 The Guru's Sikhs took away Chandu, tied his hands behind 
his back, paraded him in the streets of Amritsar and Lahore, and in the 
end someone stabbed him to death. But Chandu's wife and son, were set 

The Sikh tradition tells us that during this period the relations 
between Jahangir and the Guru were so good that the former visited 
Amritsar and even offered to bear all the expenses of his new building 
of Akal Takht. But the Guru declined, saying: "Let me and my Sikhs raise 
this throne of God with the labour of our own bodies and with the 
contributions from our own little resources. I wish to make it a symbol 
of my Sikhs' service and sacrifice, and not a monument to the king's 
generosity." 103 

Some writers, like Mohsin Fani, say that Emperor Jahangir even 
offered a mansab of 700 horses and asked him to exercise a supervisory 
control over the Punjab officials. 104 But the Sikh chroniclers do not 
subscribe to this view. They say that the Guru accompanied Jahangir on 
his tours and expeditions in Rajputana and Kashmir not as a Mansabdar 
of Jahangir but as his friend. In the face of these divergent views, we can 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

say only this much with certainty that from the day of his release to the 
death of Jahangir, the Guru and the Sikhs must have been in the good 
books of the Emperor and during this period the Guru must have 
increased his military strength without arousing the wrath of the 

Succession of Shah Jahan 

Jahangir fell seriously ill in 1627 A.D. He went to Kashmir for a 
change of climate. His condition deteriorated. While returning the 
Emperor died at Rajauri on November 7, 1627, A.D. Nur Jahan and her 
brother Asaf Khan were with him. At Lahore, Nur Jahan declared her 
son-in-law and son of Jahangir, Shahryar, Emperor of India. Asaf Khan 
was interested in his own son-in-law, Shah Jahan, another son of 
Jahangir. He was in the Deccan. Asaf Khan sent most trusted runner, 
Banarsi, to Shah Jahan, calling him immediately to the north. Meanwhile, 
Asaf Khan defeated Shahryar. Shah Jahan ascended the throne on 
February 24, 1628, A.D. He started his reign with the execution of all his 
brothers and nephews. Though, born to a Hindu mother, he became an 
orthodox Muslim. For some time, the relations of the new Emperor with 
Guru Hargobind continued to be friendly. The son of Shah Jahan, Dara 
Shikoh, was particularly very favourably disposed towards the Guru. 
But, despite this, the new militant policy of Guru Hargobind soon 
brought him into conflict with the Mughals. 

First, there took place the case of Kaulan. She was probably 105 the 
daughter of the Qazi Rustam Khan of Lahore. She was a religious 
minded woman and remained busy in meditation. After some time, 
Kaulan became the disciple of saint Mian Mir. The Qazi did not like 
these odd ways of his daughter and began to illtreat her. Tired of her 
father's ill treatment, she took refuge with the Guru at Amritsar. 106 This 
case occurred in the reign of Jahangir. The Qazi could not prevail upon 
the Emperor to take action against the Guru because of Jahangir's 
friendship with the Guru. But with the accession of Shah Jahan, the Qazi 
of Lahore again began to represent that serious action should be taken 
against the Sikh Guru. 

Secondly, the Guru's increasing military strength and particularly his 
enlistment of most of fugitives, free-booters and malcontents from the 
imperial army caused great misgivings in the minds of the Mughal 
officers of the Punjab and they reported that the rising power of this new 
military sect must be checked immediately. Guru Hargobind's 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


recruitment of Pathan mercenaries like Painda Khan made the Emperor 
realise that the Guru's aim of taking such people into his fold could be 
no other but political. And Shah Jahan, therefore, felt obliged to take 
military action against him. 

Another cause of conflict was that Shah Jahan immediately after his 
accession, forbade conversion of Mohammedans to any other religion, 
which meant that the Guru must stop preaching his faith to the Muslims. 
Besides, Emperor Shah Jahan ordered that the baoli of Guru Arjan should 
be destroyed and a mosque be erected on its site. The Sikhs and their 
Guru could not submit to all this and, thus, a conflict between them and 
the Emperor became inevitable. 

Battle of Amritsar (1628 A.D.) 107 

The immediate cause of the Sikh-Mughal hostilities was the forcible 
seizure of an imperial hawk by the Sikhs. One day in 1628 A.D. Shah Jahan 
was hunting in the neighbourhood of Amritsar. At Gumtala 108 one of his 
special hawks strayed away and consequently was seized by the Sikhs. 
The soldiers approached the Sikhs and demanded that the bird be 
returned. The Guru would have returned the royal hawk had not the 
imperial party threatened the Guru and his Sikhs with dire consequences. 
The two parties came to blows and in the end the soldiers were beaten 
off. 109 Shah Jahan could not overlook this and so he sent a large expedition 
of about 7000 strong under the leadership of Mukhlis Khan to teach a 
lesson to the Guru and his Sikhs. According to Mohsin Fani, the city of the 
Guru, i.e. Amritsar, was sacked and looted. Even the Guru's property was 
plundered. The Sikh detachment in the Lohgarh being too small, was 
destroyed by the Mohammedans. The next day being fixed for the 
marriage of Bibi Viro, the Guru's daughter, a lot of sweets had been stored 
in the fort which the Muslim soldiers ate to their fill and fell to deep sleep. 
The Sikhs finding an opportunity fell upon them and slaughtered great 
many of them, the rest having fled away. After a sharp scuffle the Guru 
retired to Chubbal, 25 kilometres south-west of Amritsar, where he 
performed the nuptial ceremony in haste on the fixed day of the marriage 
and prepared his Sikhs for the attack on the Mughals. Mukhlis Khan was 
killed in the battle. 

Syed Muhammad Latif writes: "Mukhlis-^Khan marched from Lahore 
at the head of 7000 troops, who were, however, signally defeated near 
Amritsar, their leader being killed in the engagement. The defeated army 
returned to Lahore after losing many, killed and wounded. This was the 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

first combat in the annals of the Punjab which was fought between the 
Mughals and the Sikhs." 110 The Guru's fame spread far and wide. Sir 
Jadunath writes: "Many men came to enlist under the Guru's banner." 
They said that none else had power to contend with the Emperor. 111 
After the battle of Amritsar Guru Hargobind went to Hargobindpur and 
stayed there for some time. 112 

Battle of Hargobindpur (1630 A.D.) 

At Hargobindpur, the Guru fought another battle with the Mughal 
soldiers in 1630 A.D. It is said that one Bhagwana, a relation of Chandu, 
had misappropriated some of the Guru's property. Bhagwana was killed 
by the Sikhs, but Rattan Chand, his son, appealed to Abdulla Khan, the 
faujdar of Jullundur Doab, who marched upon the Sikhs with his 
soldiers but was completely defeated and fled from the battlefield. The 
Guru was involved in a number of engagements with the imperial 
troops. He had to change his headquarters from Amritsar to Sri 
Hargobindpur, and later to Kartarpur in Jullundhur district, again to 
Phagwara and finally to Kiratpur. 

The Battle of Lahra and Gurusar (December 1634 A.D.) 

After a few years, hostilities again broke out between the Mughals 
and the Sikhs. This time, the immediate cause of the trouble was not the 
hawk, but the horses. One of the Guru's devoted Sikhs, Sadh 113 or Sadah 
or Sadhu, was ordered to bring horses for the Guru from Central Asia. 
Mohsin Fani says he had not gone far away from Amritsar when he was 
informed that his little son who was deeply attached to his father, had 
seriously fallen ill, and was asked to return. Such was his devotion to the 
Guru that he replied: "If he should die, there is enough wood in the 
house to burn him. I am going on Guru's business and I will not return." 
His son passed away, but he did not come back. 114 

Sadh 115 first went to Balkh. On finding that the quality of horses he 
wanted to buy not being available there, he came to Iraq. There he 
purchased three horses of the finest breed. On his return journey he was 
accompanied by Mohsin Fani from Kabul to Lahore. He writes: "Sadh is 
a man happy at good luck but never sad in misfortune." At Lahore, 
Sadh's two horses, Dilbagh and Gulbagh, were seized by Khalil Beg, the 
Governor. Another devoted Sikh was Bidhi Chand. Mohsin Fani says: 
"Earlier Bidhia was a thief." 116 Whenever, the Guru wanted to punish 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


some miscreant, he deputed Bidhia to do so. The Guru told him: "On 
doomsday his disciples would not be asked to give an explanation for 
their deeds." 117 Bidhi Chand was sent to recover the two horses. In 
disguise he took up service in the Lahore fort first as a groom and 
afterwards as a tracker. In course of time he managed to escape with both 
the horses one by one. They were renamed by the Guru, Janbhai and 
Suhela. 118 

The Guru recruited a Pathan brigand Painda Khan on five rupees a 
day. Painda Khan's mother had been Hargobind' s wet nurse and her son 
was a playmate and bosom friend of Hargobind. The Guru treated him 
with great consideration. He was given a house and a buffalo for milk. 119 
He was a brave soldier. Hargobind was conscious of the mighty power 
of the Mughal Empire and his own meagre resources. Expecting reprisal, 
the Guru took shelter in the Lakhi jungle lying between Firozpur and 
Bhatinda. As anticipated, a strong contingent of the Governor of Lahore 
pursued the Guru into the impenetrable retreat. Kamar Beg and Lai Beg 
were sent out from Lahore at the head of an army which crossed the 
Sutlej, but want of provisions and the difficulties of the march had a 
disastrous effect on the imperial troops. 120 The Guru went on retreating 
before the imperial troops. He arrived at the heart of the waterless 
country of Brar Jats, a war-like people. They were sympathetic to the 
Sikhs on account of Guru Amar Das's Manji system. The Sikhs lay in 
ambush and defeated the enemy, but at a heavy cost of 1200 Sikh 
soldiers. This engagement took place near Lahore Gaga or village Lahra 
about 100 km. from Bhatinda on December 16, 1634, A.D. 121 The Guru 
turned towards north pursued by the Mughals. Another action was 
fought. At the place of battle the Guru built a tank now called Gurusar. 
It is situated near Nathana, a village five kilometres from Rampura Phul 
railway station. 122 Mohsin Fani says: "Khalil Beg's high handedness did 
not bring him prosperity. The same year his son who was responsible for 
this act died, and he himself suffered insults and disgrace/' 123 After this 
battle, the Guru now returned to the plains and came back to Kartarpur. 

The Battle of Kartarpur (April 26, 1635 A.D.) 124 

Now differences arose between Guru Hargobind and Painda Khan. 
He deserted the Guru and sought service with the Governor of Lahore. 
An expedition under the command of Mir. Badehra and Painda Khan 
was dispatched against the Guru. They were joined by the Jullundur 
troops. The Guru had only 5000 soldiers with him. 125 In a hard fought 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

battle both the enemy commanders were killed. In this battle the Guru's 
youngest son Tyag Mai displayed remarkable skill and won the title of 
Tegh Bahadur from his father. 

Kale Khan assumed command of the Mughal forces and continued 
to fight. To avenge the death of his leaders he rushed upon the Guru 
with a drawn sword, and delivered a vehement attack on him. The 
Guru warded off the blow and then assaulted him saying: "Not so, 
but the sword is used thus." In one stroke Kale Khan's head flew off. 
At this Mohsin Fani remarks that Guru Hargobind did not strike in 
anger but deliberately and to give instruction, because the function of 
the Guru was to teach. 126 In this battle the Guru's beloved steed, 
Dilbagh, renamed Janbai, was severely wounded and it died soon 
afterwards at Kiratpur. 127 Guru Hargobind felt very sad at the death 
of his old brave soldier (Painda Khan). The Guru, on seeing Painda 
Khan's body, was filled with pity and regret. He took his shield and 
put it over his victim's face so as to shade it from the sun and, 
bursting into tears, said: "Painda Khan, I cherised thee, I reared thee 
and I made thee a hero. Though men spoke ill of thee, I forgot thy 
failings, and evil to thee never entered my mind, but evil destiny so 
mislead thee that thou broughtest an army against me. It is thine'own 
acts of ingratitude and insolence that have led to thy death at my 
hands. . . . Though thou hast been ungrateful and untrue to thy salt, 
I pray the Almighty to grant thee dwelling in heaven." 128 

The Battle of Phagwara (April 29, 1635, A.D.) 129 

The Guru had suffered heavy losses in men and material. He 
expected another attack from the enemy. He hurriedly retired from 
Kartarpur in order to reach Kiratpur via Phagwara. The Mughal troops 
reorganised themselves and pursued the Guru. It was almost a running 
battle. At Phagwara another pitched battle was fought three days later 
on April 29, 1635, A.D. It was a drawn battle. 130 The Guru rushed 
towards the Rupar ferry to cross river Satluj. The Mughal soldiers gave 
up the pursuit. Kiratpur was situated in the territory of Raja Tara Chand 
of Kahlur who had thrown off allegiance to Emperor Shah Jahan. Mohsin 
Fani concludes: "Many strong forces had been sent against him. By 
God's grace he escaped unhurt, though whatever he had was lost." 131 

Hargobind was the first Guru to have resorted to arms in order to 
redress the grievances of the community. Constitutional agitation was 
meaningless as there was no constitution. He made it clear to everybody 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


that fighting against the wrongs was not against the spirit of any religion 
but it was an essential ingredient of a practical religion and that hunting 
and sport were not opposed to religious piety. The Guru had fully 
justified his wearing of two swords, representing miri and piri. He 
combined in himself the spiritual and military leadership. The political 
aspect of it was left out, as the time was not opportune yet. 

The Guru's battles were not of aggressive nature. They were 
generally defensive. With his slender resources he could not maintain a 
constant struggle against the government. He did not want any territory 
to carve out a state for himself, nor did he refuse to accept the Mughal 
authority. His only object was to express his resentment against the 
wrong religious policy of the rulers. In achieving this objective he was 

In fact the Guru was trying to change the age-long mentality of 
Hindus of offering only passive resistance to the oppressors. He knew 
that the Muslim sword had completely wiped out the remains of 
Buddhism from the land of its birth. Hinduism had survived because a 
section of it, the Rajputs, had put up a tough fight against the foreigners. 
In Punjab the spirit of resistance had been completely broken. After 600 
years of slavery he was awakening his fellow countrymen to the 
realisation that irrespective of consequences, which were quite obvious, 
the people should rise against a cruel government to get their wrongs 

The organisational evolution of Sikhism from the standpoint of 
religion and spiritualism had almost been completed during the time of 
Guru Arjan. The execution of Guru Arjan and Guru Hargobind's own 
imprisonment had clearly shown that a hard lot was in store for the new 
religion. Guru Hargobind had a definite perception of the changing 
circumstances and had realised the necessity of playing an active role in 
the political life of the community. He had a clear conception that 
militarily he had little chance of success against the almost unlimited 
resources of the Mughal empire. Yet he considered it below his dignity 
to adopt a submissive role, which was nothing short of degradation. 

He clearly enunciated a policy which was to lead the most down- 
trodden people slowly but inexorably to political and military 
advancement. The Guru created a revolution in the life of the Sikhs. 
Along with recitation of hymns they were taught the practical lessons of 
dharma yudha or holy war. This factor his critics could not see or 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

comprehend. Guru Hargobind rendered a unique service to this country 
in showing the true path of deliverance from political bondage. 


(1645 A.D.— 1661 A.D.) 

Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru, died in 1645 A.D. He had five sons, 
only two had survived him. The elder Suraj Mai was a worldly man and 
the youngest Tegh Bahadur was a recluse. The Guru's deceased eldest 
son Gurditta had two sons, Dhir Mai and Har Rai. The Guru's choice fell 
on Har Rai, his grandson,- the son of Gurditta, who had impressed his 
grandfather with his piety and kind disposition. Har Rai, however, had 
an elder brother, Dhir Mai, but his grandfather, Guru Hargobind, took 
him to be an incarnation of Prithia and so, in preference to him, decided 
to nominate Har Rai as his successor. He was, at that time, only fourteen 
years old. He was strongly advised to retain the existing contingent of 
2200 mounted soldiers as his bodyguard. For some time his relations 
with the Mughal Empire remained cordial. It is said that Dara Shikoh, 
the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan, had developed such great regards 
for the Guru that when the former fell ill, the Guru sent him a medicine 
by which he was speedily cured. A little later, Dara was involved in the 
war of succession (1657-58 A.D.) against his brothers and was defeated 
at Sammugarh. He, thereupon, came to Punjab to raise an army to make 
another bid to recover his lost dominions. In the course of this visit, he 
came to the Guru also and asked him for military aid and his blessings. 
It is said that the Guru gave him some help. But this assistance did not 
prove useful to Dara as most of his Muslim nobles deserted him. Most 
probably it was moral and spiritual help. 132 

Aurangzeb sent for the Guru immediately after his succession as he 
was annoyed with the Guru for the help, whether active or passive, 
given by him to rebel Dara. The Guru sent his fourteen-year old eldest 
son Ram Rae in September 1661, A.D. He was instructed to concentrate 
on God and reply to the Emperor patiently and carefully. He was 
reminded of Guru Arjan's conduct when Jahangir ordered him to modify 
hymns in the Holy Granth. He was warned to avoid flattery and behave 
with dignity. The lad, being over-zealous and ambitious and perhaps out 
of fear for his life, tried to win over the Emperor and his courtiers. He 
was asked to explain why the following verse in the holy Granth abused 
the Musalmans: 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


"Mitti Musalman ki pere pai kumhar; Ghar bhande ittan Kian jalti 
kare pukar" 133 [The dust of a Musalman is kneaded by a potter into 
a dough and he converts it into pots and bricks, which cry out as 
they burn]. The hymn was uttered by Guru Nanak to show that 
cremation and burial differed little. Ram Rae was overawed by the 
splendour of the court. In order not to offend the Emperor, Ram Rae 
just in his early teens, replied that Nanak's actual word was Beinian 
or faithless and not Musalman which appeared in the text by the 
mistake of the scribe. He had forgotten that he being the Guru's son 
and a probable candidate for next Guruship and employed on such 
a delicate mission had upon him a tremendously heavy 
responsibility and that he should be ready for death. His answer 
naturally pleased the Emperor but offended the Sikhs of Delhi who 
reported the matter to the Guru at Kiratpur. 

Guru Har Rai was deeply distressed at his son's behaviour for having 
insulted Guru Nanak and the Granth Sahib. The Guru declared Ram Rae 
unfit for Guruship and immediately excluded him from succession. 
Guru Har Rai observed: "The Guruship is like a tiger's milk which can 
only be contained in a golden cup. Only he who is ready to devote his 
life hitherto is worthy of it. Let Ram Rae not look on my face again." 134 
His decision was conveyed to Ram Rae as well as to the Sikhs at Delhi. 135 
Ram Rae was detained at the Mughal court where he conducted himself 
as a faithful courtier. Shortly afterwards Guru Har Rai died at Kiratpur 
on October 6, 1661, A.D. at the young age of 32. 136 

(1661 A.D.— 1664 A.D.) 

Guru Har Rai had nominated his younger son Har Krishan to be his 
successor, when he was only five years old. Ram Rae who was living at 
Delhi pressed his claim for Guruship. Aurangzeb was fully occupied in 
settling the state affairs and had no time to turn his attention to a matter 
which had no urgency. In 1662 A.D. he fell seriously ill, and next year 
went to Kashmir to recoup his health. He returned to Delhi on January 
18, 1664 A.D. Aurangzeb was a pastmaster in the art of diplomacy. He 
wanted to take full advantage of the rift which had developed between 
the two brothers. He was keen to use Ram Rae in weakening the Sikh 
movement. He summoned Har Krishan to Delhi to justify his claim to 
Guruship, and asked Mirza Raja Jai Singh ' to call the Guru to Delhi on 
his personal surety. 137 The Guru's mother Krishan Kaur 138 was terribly 
afraid of the machinations of Ram Rae and the stern character of the 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Emperor who had destroyed all his male relatives in the most brutal 
manner. Guru Har Krishan came to Delhi and put up in the house of 
Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur at the village of Raisina in the suburbs of 
the capital. Shortly afterwards the Guru had an attack of small pox with 
high fever, and he became almost unconscious. Owing to the infectious 
disease, the Guru was shifted to a house in village Bhogal near the 
present Nizamuddin railway station. His followers who were attending 
on him realized that the Guru might succumb to the fatal disease. They 
were anxious to secure his nomination of a successor according to old 
tradition. They placed a coconut and five paise before him and pressed 
him to name his successor. In delirium the child could utter only Baba 
Bakala meaning that the next Guru lived at Bakala. As a rule, a child 
would never call his parents or grandparents by name out of respect. 
Obviously he meant Tegh Bahadur, his grand uncle, who was living at 
Bakala, four kilometre to the north of modern Beas railway station. 
Having said this he closed his eyes, became unconscious and expired on 
March 30, 1664, A.D. at the age of eight. He was cremated on the bank 
of river Yamuna where now stands Gurudwara Bala Sahib. A big 
Gurudwara was later on constructed at Raisina. It is called Bangla Sahib. 


(1664 A.D.— 1675 A.D.) 

Guru Har Krishan's successor, Tegh Bahadur, thus inherited the 
hostility of the Mughal Emperor, but, for some time, mainly through the 
intercession of Mirza Raja Ram Singh, Aurangzeb did not take any 
serious action against the Guru. Rather, the Rajput chief took the Guru 
with him in his Assam expedition. After the conquest of Assam, Guru 
Tegh Bahadur returned to Punjab and settled at Anandpur. 

By this time, Aurangzeb had securely established himself on the 
throne of Delhi. Now he embarked on his long cherished religious policy 
of bigoted persecution and religious discrimination. It was intended not 
only to satisfy the inhuman Sunni bigot within himself, but also to please 
the fanatic orthodox Muhammedans in India and abroad. His cruel and 
homicidal treatment of his father, brother and their families, on the one 
hand, and the cold-blooded murder of pious and liberal-minded sufis 
and shias, on the other, had earned for him the disapprobation, nay even 
condemnation, of the saner section of the whole Muslim world. For 
example, the Sheriff of Mecca refused to receive his envoys although 
they brought him many presents. Shah Abbas of Persia hated Aurangzeb 
and condemned him for his treatment of his father and his brother. 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Aurangzeb was anxious to rehabilitate himself in the good books of his 
coreligionists. Spurred in part by that anxiety and partly by fanatic 
Muhammedan divines, but chiefly by the promptings of his own 
merciless, bigoted heart, he embarked "on a militant policy of religious 
persecution" and "allowed the religious fanatic to get the upper hand of 
the king". "He had resolved" says Latif, "that the belief in one God and 
the Prophet should be not the prevailing, but the only religion of the 
Empire of Hindustan." He issued mandates to the viceroys and governors 
of provinces to destroy pagodas and idols throughout the dominion. Guru 
Tegh Bahadur was on his eastern tour when he got reports of Aurangzeb's 
fanaticism and his determination to convert the Hindu population to 
Islam, and to make Hindu India a purely Muslim state. 

In the beginning of his reign, Aurangzeb ordered, the local officers in 
every town and village of Orissa from Katak to Mednipur to pull down 
all temples including even clay huts, built during the last 10 or 12 years 
and to allow no old temple to be repaired. 139 In 1661-62 A.D., a big 
temple was demolished at Mathura and a Jama Masjid was erected in its 
place in the heart of Hindu population. 140 From April 1665 A.D., Hindus 
were charged double the custom duties paid by Muslims on all articles 
brought for sale. 141 In May 1667 A.D., Muslims were exempted from 
payment of custom duties altogether, while the Hindus had to pay at the 
old rate of 5%. In 1668 A.D., Hindu fairs and festivals were stopped. 142 
According to Irfan Habib, peasants in many cases were compelled to part 
with their women and children for good to meet the revenue 
demands. 143 

Muhammad Saqi Musta-id-Khan in Masir-e-Alamgiri says that in April 
1669 A.D., the Director of the Faith issued orders to all the governors of 
provinces to destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of 
infidels, and they were strictly enjoined to put a stop to the teaching and 
practising of idolatrous forms of worship. 144 In May 1669 A.D., Gokal, a 
Jat of Tilpat, near Mathura, revolted. Aurangzeb sent a strong force 
against him. Gokal was captured and cut to pieces. His women folk were 
given away to Muslims. Five thousand jats were killed and 7000 were 
taken prisoners. 145 In January 1670 A.D., the biggest temple of Keshav 
Rae at Mathura was destroyed and the city was named Islamabad. 146 The 
temple was built by Raja Narsing Deo at a cost of thirty-three lakhs of 
rupees. Its guilded domes were so high that they could be seen from 
Agra, 54 km. away. Syed Muhammad Latif, says: "The richly decorated 
idols of the temples were removed to Agra and placed beneath the steps 
leading to the mosque of Nawab Begam." 147 The destruction of Hindu 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

places of worship was one of the chief duties of the Muhtasibs or 
Censors of Morals who were appointed in all the sub-divisions and cities 
of the Empire. 148 About three hundred temples in various parts of 
Rajasthan were destroyed and their idols broken. 149 

The Emperor appointed Mullas, with a party of horses to each, to 
check all ostentatious display of idol worship, and some time afterwards, 
he forbade fairs on Hindu festivals, and issued a circular to all governors 
and men in authority prohibiting employment of Hindus in the offices of 
state immediately under them, and commanding them to offer all such 
offices to Muhammedans only. All servants of the state were ordered to 
embrace the Muhammedan religion under pain of dismissal. A large 
number of jogis, sannyasis and other religious men were driven out of the 
King's dominion. He reimposed jizia or poll-tax 150 on Hindus throughout 
his dominions. 151 Goods belonging to Hindu merchants were subjected 
to custom duty twice as heavy as demanded from Muhammedan traders. 

"The Sikhs, who were also infidels, could not expect a better 
treatment than the Hindus, and we are told that "Aurangzeb ordered the 
temples of the Sikhs to be destroyed and Guru's agents, masands, for 
collecting tithes and presents of the faithful, to be expelled from the 
cities." 152 By his wanton persecution and his deliberate suppression of 
the religions of the infidels, Aurangzeb raised a whirlwind throughout 
the empire and the Sikhs could not remain unaffected." 153 

It was in the reign of this monarch that Guru Tegh Bahadur had to 
carry on his work of preparing the people to free themselves from 
oppression and bondage and developing in them a longing and an urge 
to assert their rights as human beings. He went on extensive tours 
throughout India for preaching his faith and ideals. By virtue of his 
personal qualities and activities, he came to be known and respected far 
and wide. He was known throughout upper India, was highly revered 
by Rajput princes, and was actually worshipped by the peasantry of the 
Punjab, and was generally looked upon as a champion of the Hindus. 154 

Aurangzeb's religious policy, which aimed at the establishment of an 
orthodox Sunni state, had now raised a .storm affecting every part of the 
country. It was idle to expect that a man of the position and eminence of 
Guru Tegh Bahadur could remain unaffected. 155 As a matter of fact, his 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


personal influence and popular propaganda formed a great obstacle in 
the way of Aurangzeb's proselytising campaign. Consequently, he 
decided to put an end to the Guru's life and activities. He did that 
without any compunction or delay. 

Guru Tegh Bahadur used to spend his time in peaceful pursuits and 
charitable work. By the time he became the Guru, Sikh society had 
developed as a militant organisation and the people were exhorted not 
to tolerate tyranny, oppression and injustice from any political ruler. 
Aurangzeb had started considering Tegh Bahadur as more of a political 
enemy than as the leader of a religious sect. From the sixth Guru 
onwards the entire outlook of the Sikhs had changed — They must defend 
themselves against political aggression with their own power and 
should not look to any supernatural power for this. Permitting a tyrant 
to commit atrocities is a sin. Force can be met only by force. The ninth 
Guru, Tegh Bahadur, provided opportunity to develop the Sikh society 
further on the lines laid down by the previous Gurus. Tegh Bahadur had 
been given full training as a soldier and a military leader and he had 
even fought a battle under his father against the Mughals at a young age 
of fourteen. 

Guru Tegh Bahadur had undertaken long preaching tours, enlisting 
many new converts to the Sikh faith. While such activities of the non- 
Muslims could be tolerated under benign rulers such as Akbar, they 
could hardly be put up with under the religious fanatics as Aurangzeb 
was. Ram Rae had already been in Delhi adding fuel to the fire. A 
distorted picture of the Guru's character was presented at the Emperor's 
court. For Aurangzeb there was no distinction between politics and 
religion, and one of the essential parts of the Emperor's state-policy 
being the conversion of the entire mass of the Hindus to his faith, the 
religious activities of the Guru were viewed from a different angle. This 
may also perhaps explain why the Muslim writers have tried to give a 
political colour to the Guru's religious activities, which by then had been 
declared to be dangerous for public peace. 

Aurangzeb issued proclamations throughout the empire that the 
Hindus should embrace Islam, and that those who did so should receive 
jagirs, state services and all the immunities granted to royal favourites. 
The Emperor took the advice of his priests and all the plans suggested 
by them were adopted. The experiment of mass conversion was first 
tried in Kashmir. Macauliffe writes: "There were two reasons for this. In 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

the first place, the Kashmiri Pandits were supposed to be educated and 
it was thought that, if they were converted, the inhabitant of Hindustan 
would readily follow their example; secondly, Peshawar and Kabul, 
Muhammedan countries were near and if the Kashmiris offered any 
resistance to their conversion, the Muhammedans might declare a 
religious war and overpower and destroy them." 156 Nawab Iftikhar 
Khan 157 was appointed Governor of Kashmir in 1671 A.D. He was 
chosen by Aurangzeb to convert Pandits to Islam so that the common 
people might follow their example. His proselytizing activities terrified 
the Pandits. They were in search of a guide to help them. The Pandits' 
very existence was at stake. In the Punjab, Guru Hargobind alone in 600 
years of Muslim rule, had provided military leadership to Hindus and 
Sikhs for the first time. The Pandits thought of waiting upon his son 
Guru Tegh Bahadur. A fifteen-man deputation of Kashmiri Pandits under 
Kirpa Ram Dat of Matan arrived at Anandpur on May 25, 1675 A.D. 

The Guru's heart melted at their tale of woe. He became uneasy and 
restless at the sad plight of innocent people. At this time 8%-year old 
Gobind Rai appeared there. He innocently asked the cause of sadness of 
the Guru and the visitors. The Guru replied that the nation required a 
holy man to sacrifice his life. The child thoughtlessly remarked that there 
could be no holier person than the Guru himself. It was enough, the 
Guru took the child's observation as God's word. His resolve was made. 
He informed the Pandits that they should tell the Governor to convert 
Tegh Bahadur first and they would follow his example. 

The Pandits went back and told the Governor who conveyed it to 
Aurangzeb at Hasan Abdal, situated close to the border of Kashmir. The 
Emperor's mind was already prejudiced against Tegh Bahadur. He hated 
the expression Sachcha Padshah used by the Sikhs for the Guru. 158 It 
implied that the Guru was a true king and the Emperor was a false king. 
He also detested the word Bahadur in the Guru's name as this term was 
reserved for nobility of the Mughal court only. The report about Guru's 
activities in the sis-Satluj region had exasperated him. Aurangzeb, 
however, was most deeply offended by the Guru's support to Kashmiri 
Pandits. The only punishment for such people was conversion or death. 
He knew no other course. He issued a firman to the Governor of Lahore 
to arrest the Guru and keep him in prison until he was called to Delhi. 

The Governor of Lahore passed on a copy of the imperial firman to 
Abdul Aziz Dilawar Khan, Faujdar of Sarhind, with instructions to 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


execute the orders in such a way as not to arouse any serious alarm in 
the region, and to treat it as most confidential. The Faujdar instructed 
Nur Mohammad Khan Mirza, the Kotwal of Rupar, in whose jurisdiction 
Anandpur was situated, to arrest the Guru quietly and immediately send 
him to Sarhind. 159 

Muhammad Ahsan Ijad 160 says that the order was kept secret for 
some time. Obviously the Kotwal was waiting for a suitable opportunity. 
He did not like to carry out the orders at Anandpur, where a large 
number of Sikhs were always present. But he had employed scouts to 
inform him of the Guru's daily activities and programme. It was 
reported to him that the Guru had decided to go on a tour about the 
middle of July 1675 A.D. 

The Kotwal made preparations to do this job. A posse of police had 
been called from Sarhind to Rupar. A number of Ranghars from 
neighbourhood were kept ready for an emergency. The Guru 
accompanied by three devoted Sikhs, Mati Das, Sati Das and Dyal Das, 
left Anandpur on July 11, 1675 A.D. After covering about forty km. the 
Guru halted for the night at a Muslim village, Malakpur Rangharan, 
Pargana Ghanaula, near Rupar, and put up with his disciple named 
Nagahia. At about 3 o'clock next morning on July 12, the Guru and his 
three companions were taken prisoner and were hurriedly whisked 
away to Sarhind. 161 The Guru and his party reached Sarhind under a 
strong guard. They were kept in prison at Basi Pathanan, and were 
treated as criminals. They remained there for a little less than four 
months. 162 

The long period of Guru's imprisonment of nearly four months at 
Sarhind was necessitated by the fact that Aurangzeb was busy at Hasan 
Abdal and he wanted to come to Delhi and personally coerce the Guru 
to embrace Islam. He seems to have reached Delhi before the beginning 
of Ramzan, the fasting month of Musalmans, which commenced on 
November 9, 1675, A.D. On his arrival at Delhi, the Guru's presence was 
demanded at the capital. The faujdar put the Guru in an Iron cage and 
fastened it on the back of an elephant. His companions were fettered and 
handcuffed and were carried in a bullock cart to Delhi. They were 
strongly guarded under the personal supervision of the faujdar of 
Sarhind. They reached Delhi on November 5, 1675 A.D. They were kept 
in the Kotwali jail. 163 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Aurangzeb had many religious disputations with Tegh Bahadur and 
asked him to show miracles, if he was a true Guru, or to embrace 
Islam. 164 The Guru replied that showing a miracle was to interfere in the 
work of God which was wholly improper. As for embracing Islam, he 
considered his own religion as good as Islam and, therefore, the change 
of religion was not necessary. The Emperor ordered that the Guru be put 
to the severest torture. After five days' persecution, on November 10, the 
most heinous and most horrible scene was enacted before the very eyes 
of the Guru who was kept in the iron cage. Aurangzeb thought that the 
sight of such ghastly deeds might force the Guru to change his mind for 
embracing Islam. 

Mati Das, Sati Das and Dyal Das as well as the Guru were brought 
to the open space in front of the Kotwali where now stood a fountain. 
First of all Bhai Mati Das was asked to become a Musalman. He replied 
that Sikhism was true and Islam was false. If God had favoured Islam, 
He would have created all men circumcised. He was at once tied 
between two posts and while standing erect, was sawn across from head 
to loins. He faced the savage operation with such composure, 
tranquillity and fortitude that the Sikh theologians included his name in 
the daily prayer (Ardas) of the community. Dyal Das abused the Emperor 
and his courtiers for this atrocious act. He was tied up like a bundle with 
an iron chain and was put into a huge cauldron of boiling water. Sati Das 
condemned the brutalities. He was hacked to pieces limb by limb. Jaita, 
a Rangreta Sikh of Delhi, was also present disguised as sweeper with a 
broom and a basket in his hands. He collected the remains of these 
martyrs and consigned them to the river Yamuna flowing at a stone's 

Guru Tegh Bahadur saw everything happening before his eyes. He 
remained stonelike unruffled and undismayed. He was all the time 
repeating the name of God. He knew his turn was coming next. His 
energy, thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions had concentrated on God 
and a dazzling divine light was beating upon his face. He remained, as 
usual, peaceful and realized that such immortal sacrifices could not go in 
vain. Their name would live for ever. After all this, the Guru was asked 
either to embrace Islam or show a miracle or face death. He offered to 
show a miracle the following day. On November 11, 1675, at 11 o'clock 
in the morning was the time fixed for the Guru's performance. Keeping 
in mind his promise to the Kashmiri Pandits, the Guru continually 
chanted the following hymn: 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Bahen Jinahn di pakariye 

Sar dije bahen na chhoriye 

Tegh Bahadur bolya 

Dhar payae dharma na chhoriye 165 

Next morning the Guru got up early. He bathed and sat in 
meditation. He recited the Japji and Sukhmani. He reflected upon the 
supreme sacrifice of his grandfather, Guru Arjan, the duties of the office 
of guruship and on his own responsibility at this crisis. His resolve was 
made. He uttered the following hymn of his own: 

Ram gio ravan gio, Jaka bahu parivar 

Kahu Nanak kish thir nahin, Sapne jio Sansar. 166 

A little before 11 o'clock Guru Tegh Bahadur was brought to the open 
place of execution in Chandni Chowk, where now stands Gurudwara 
Sis Ganj. The Qazi, several high officials and the executioner, Sayyid 
Jalal-ud-din of Samana with a shining broad sword in hand, were 
already there. A contingent of Mughal soldiers stood on guard. A large 
crowd of spectators had gathered outside the barricade. The Guru stood 
in front. The Qazi asked him either to show a miracle, or embrace Islam, 
or face death. Syed Muhammad Latif says that the Guru expressed his 
readiness to show a miracle in proof of the alleged divinity of his 
mission. He wrote on a piece of paper which he said was charmed and 
then having tied it round his neck declared that the sword would fall 
harmless on it by the effect of the charm which was written upon it. The 
executioner was then summoned to test the miraculous charm. The blow 
was given and the head of the Guru rolled on the floor to the amazement 
of all present there. The paper was then read and it contained these 
words, "Sar dia, Sirar na dia", meaning that he had given his head but 
not his resolve. 167 

After the execution, Guru's head and body were placed on the back 
of an elephant and paraded in the streets and bazaars of Delhi. They 
were kept at the Kotwali in Chandni Chowk after demonstration. 
Aurangzeb then ordered that parts of his body be amputated and hung 
about the city. 168 Nanu and Jaita, resident of Dilwali Gali in the city, held 
a meeting in the house of Nanu. They were joined by Uda, a resident of 
Ladwa in Karnal district, who was staying with Nanu. They resolved 
that such a thing should not be allowed to happen. It was suggested that 
Lakhi Lubana was shortly to arrive with a few cartloads of cotton from 
Narnaul. He was a Sikh and his guidance should be sought. They waited 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

for Lakhi on the road a few kilometres away from the city. They 
informed him about the whole affair. It was decided that the carts should 
be diverted from the side of the Red Fort to Chandni Chowk about 
midnight. On November 11, it was Thursday and the fifth day of the 
moonlight. It meant the moon would set by 8 o'clock and afterwards 
there would be pitchdark. Near Kotwali the speed of the carts would be 
slowed down without stopping them. The head and body lay at the gate. 
The watchmen wrapped in quilts were inside. Jaita slipped out quietly, 
picked up the head and fled away towards Subzi Mandi. He tied the 
head in a sheet, fastened it on his back and covered his body in an old 
dirty blanket. He made straight for Azadpur on the road to Sonepat. 
Nanu and Uda served as his escorts. One walked ahead and the other 
behind within sight of Jaita. They followed the paths through fields and 
bushes. From Karnal they took the Pathway to Pehowa, Ismailabad and 
Ambala. They reached Kiratpur in the afternoon of Tuesday, November 
16, 1675 A.D. Guru Gobind Rai was immediately informed at Anandpur, 
at a distance of 8 km. He at once came to Kiratpur and accorded a 
ceremonial reception to his father's head. He held Jaita in a tight 
embrace declaring 'Rangrete Guru ke bete'. The Guru bestowed the same 
affection and honour on Nanu and Uda. 169 

Gobind Rai performed the ceremonial cremation of the head on 
November 17 at a place where now stands Gurudwara Sis Ganj 
[Anandpur Sahib]. After the creation of the Khalsa, Jaita was baptized by 
Guru Gobind Singh and was named Jiwan Singh. He was killed in the 
battle of Chamkaur in 1704 A.D. 170 Lakhi's son and a servant lifted the 
body, hid it in cotton and rushed off to Raisina and to their home in 
Rakabganj village inhabited by Bagaris whose profession was to make 
stirrups of saddles, in great demand in those days. He put the body at 
a suitable place and piled all the wood, wooden articles, clothes, ghee 
available in the house, heaped up cotton on it and then set fire to the 
house to avoid detection. 171 

In the morning the entire staff at Kotwali was horrified at the 
disappearance of Guru's head and body. The police was immediately put 
on the alert, and a thorough search was made everywhere. Some 
horsemen rushed along the road to Sonepat, making enquiries from 
passers by. Another posse of policemen hurried to Rakabganj. They 
found Lakhi's house reduced to ashes .and inmates bewailing and crying. 
After two days the Guru's ashes were collected. They were put in a 
bronze pot, and buried underground, at that very spot, Gurudwara 
Rakabganj marks this site. 172 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


The martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur is a great landmark in Sikh 
history. "His execution," says G.C. Narang, "was universally regarded by 
the Hindus as a sacrifice for their faith. The whole Punjab began to burn 
with indignation and revenge. The sturdy jats of Majha and Malwa only 
wanted a leader under whose banner they could fight and avenge the 
insult done to their religion. This leader they found in the youthful 
Gobind." 173 The Sikhs and their leader, the youthful Gobind, finally 
decided to carry the policy and programme of Guru Hargobind to its 
logical conclusion, i.e., to convert the peaceful sect of devotees into a 
well-disciplined and well-organised military order. 

The Hindus, Sikhs and Sufi Muslims in the Punjab were deeply 
shocked at the execution of the Guru and his three brave companions. 
They were filled with indignation. A Sikh even made an attempt on 
Aurangzeb's life. On Friday, October 27, 1676, the Emperor returned from 
Jama Masjid. He went for an airing in a boat in river Yamuna. When he 
alighted the boat and was about to get on the movable throne (takht-e- 
rawan) "an ill-fated disciple of Guru Tegh Bahadur" threw two bricks at 
the Emperor, one of which hit the throne. 174 

Guru Tegh Bahadur's execution turned the tide of history of the 
Sikhs. His son and successor Guru Gobind Singh, reflected on the history 
of India as well as on the history of the Sikhs. Guru Nanak had described 
the rulers of his time as tigers and dogs. His great-grandfather, the fifth 
Guru, Arjan, was executed at Lahore. His grandfather, the sixth Guru, 
Hargobind, had been imprisoned in the Gwalior fort for some time. His 
father was beheaded simply because he happened to be the head of a 
religious body. There had been no change in the attitude of rulers as 
described by Guru Nanak even after two hundred years. After a most 
determined meditation on this state of affairs, the Guru came to the 
conclusion that if the king was bad, people must rise in revolt and follow 
the example of Shivaji (1628-1680 A.D.). The greatest need of the time 
was to create a national army. Such an army was to be based on social 
justice. There should be no discrimination in the name of caste, creed or 
colour. The unpaid, unequipped and untrained army was to be inspired 
with the feelings of patriotism and nationalism. He knew that human 
mind with such inspiration was capable of rising to the loftiest heights 
and under proper guidance could work wonders. This objective was 
achieved by his creation of the Khalsa. Under the direction of the Guru, 
the Khalsa took up the profession of arms. Trie down-trodden who had 
lived for centuries under complete servility turned into doughty 
warriors. In the course of one hundred years they not only ended the 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

foreign rule but also put a stop forever to the foreign invasions from the 

Dr. Gokul Chand Narang says that in his death, Guru Tegh Bahadur 
surpassed anything that he had done during his life time. He was known 
throughout northern India, was highly revered by Rajput princes and 
was actually worshipped by the peasantry of the Punjab. He was 
generally looked upon as a champion of the Hindus. Moreover, as a 
result of this sacrifice, the Hindu religion was saved. Latif writes: "When 
the courtiers, tinged with superstition, saw what had occurred, they 
were struck with horror and surprise. The Emperor himself was 
disgusted and displeased, and ordered the crowd to be dispersed." 175 He 
was convinced that it was no more possible to convert the entire mass of 
Hindus into Islam. 

Guru Gobind Singh wrote in his Bichitra Natak thus: 

He protected the frontal marks and sacrificial thread of the 

And displayed great bravery in this kal age. 

When he put an end to his life for the sake of holy men 

He gave his head, but uttered not a groan 

Having broken his potsherd on the head of the king of Delhi 

he departed to paradise 
No one else coming into the world acted like Teg Bahadur. 

The world was in mourning at the demise of Teg Bahadur, 
There was weeping for him in the whole world, 
but rejoicing in paradise. 176 

With the tragic death of such a saintly figure as Guru Tegh Bahadur, 
all the Hindus of the Punjab were stirred to their very depth and they 
took a vow not to submit to the tyranny of the Mughals and fight them 
to the last to save their honour and religion. Thus, a great storm broke 
out in the Punjab after the death of the martyr Guru and this storm blew 
off the empire of Aurangzeb, as if it were a dead leaf lying on the road. 

The execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur, according to Gordon, sowed 
dragon-teeth in Delhi, which soon brought its harvest. 177 Besides, the 
sacrifice was bound to have a far-reaching effect on the character of the 
Sikhs. Just as after the martyrdom of Guru Arjan, Guru Hargobind had 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


to have a resort to sword and army, after the martyrdom of Guru Tegh 
Bahadur, his successor Guru Gobind Singh had to appeal to arms, but 
this time resulting into consequences simply unique. After the Guru had 
been executed, not a Sikh in Delhi dared to come forward and take away 
his body for cremation, because of the fear of arrest and similar 
treatment. Only under the cover of late stormy night Bhai Jaita, a Sikh of 
low caste, removed the Guru's head which was taken away to Anandpur 
by him, and a Lubana, Lakhi Shah, removed the Guru's body for 
cremation. It was an eye-opener, indeed, to Guru Gobind Singh who is 
said to have taken a decision forthwith to give to his Sikhs such shape 
and form as would help none of them henceforth to conceal himself and 
yet call himself a Sikh only when the circumstances favoured it. It was 
as a result of this resolve that the militant Khalsa took birth, with five of 
their own symbols to distinguish them from the rest of the humanity. 

It was as a result of this martyrdom that Guru Gobind Singh started 
maintaining a huge army once again and fought battles with the tyrants. 
The reaction continued in the shape of Banda Bahadur's valiant marches 
against the corrupt Muslim rulers in the Punjab. It continued later in the 
rise of different Sikh Misils and then ended ultimately in Ranjit Singh's 
raising a Sikh standard of monarchy and in the consolidation of the Sikhs 
into a distinct nation itself. 


(1675 A.D.— 1707 A.D.) 

Guru Gobind Singh was only nine years old when his father was 
tortured and executed by the bigoted Emperor, Aurangzeb. His first 
thought, naturally was to avenge his father's tragic death. However, it 
was not yet possible for Guru Gobind to organise active resistance 
against the Mughal tyrant. First, he himself was a boy, and so felt a 
natural handicap in leading his men and declaring an open war against 
one of the great empires of the world of those times. Secondly, his 
brethren, the Hindus, on account of centuries of alien rule and the caste 
or class prejudices, had become so weak and submissive that they would 
not take up arms to fight the alien tyranny. Thirdly, his followers, the 
Sikhs, too, had been so much overawed by the oppressive bigotry of 
Aurangzeb that at the time of the martyrdom of his father, most of them 
had left him and fled to the place of safety in the hills. Besides, there 
were a number of sub-sects among the Sikhs, mostly comprising the 
descendants of the previous Gurus whose claims to the Guru had been 
superseded; and these sub-sects were looking forward to an opportunity 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

to overthrow the child Guru and usurp all powers in their hands. The 
important groups among them were Minas, Dhirmalias and Ram Raeyyas. 

The Guru was a mere boy but the problems he was called upon to 
face were enormous. The policy of comparative peace which his 
immediate predecessors had followed, had brought about simply 
catastrophic results. The strong proselytizing attitude of the state 
exhibited during the early years of Aurangzeb's reign had slackened to 
certain extent, temples still continued to be razed to the ground and the 
sacred threads of the Hindus continued to be broken. And the tragedy is 
that "although the masses of the Hindus were bitter against the galling 
yoke of tyranny, the so-called natural leaders of the people were most 
officially loyal to the throne and most bitterly hostile to all progressive 
movements". 178 The petty hill states which were supposed to be the 
strongholds of the Hindus, were most averse to any change in their age- 
old practices and to the recognition of the exigencies of the time. They 
were loyal to the Mughals, looked upon the lower classes with disdain, 
and were first class idolaters; while these were precisely the things to 
which the Sikh Gurus were most opposed. The Hill Rajas such as Bhim 
Chand and Hari Chand are said to have threatened even Guru Tegh 
Bahadur for his beliefs. A great number of the followers of the Sikh faith 
were Jats who were looked down upon by these chiefs and, therefore, the 
Gurus were supposed to be the leaders of only low caste Hindus and 
hence to be despised. Punjab being the first to come under the Muslim 
yoke, here the Muslim population was proportionately larger than in any 
other part of the country and, therefore, less easy to contend with. The 
Governors of the Punjab were to a certain extent free from Delhi, more 
fanatic and, therefore, less likely to put up with the movements such as 
the Sikhism was. They, on the other hand, are said to have incited the 
Hill Rajas against the Guru, telling them that the successors of Guru 
Nanak had fallen from the essential philosophy preached by him, and 
degenerated into aspirants of political power. 

Besides, the Sikh organisation itself had by now fallen into the hands 
of loose-thinking self-seekers. Guru Har Rai had died in the prime of his 
youth. Guru Har Krishan was a mere child to think seriously of bringing 
the house to order. Guru Tegh Bahadur was too old and too much 
preoccupied in other things to plan seriously a renovation of the entire 
system. The masands had gone corrupt and began to feel themselves 
powerful enough to make or unmake a Guru. They used to boast that the 
Guru was of their own making, and if they did not serve him, no one 
would even look at him. They practised oppression in every form; they 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


embezzled offerings made to the Guru and committed many other 

Majority of the Guru's followers were poor and, therefore, offered 
not very good source of steady income. The Sikh army organised by 
Guru Hargobind had been dispersed and his victories in the battlefield 
now went rather against Guru Gobind Singh in the Mughal court. As a 
result of the policy of peace followed by the successors of Guru 
Hargobind, the Sikhs were falling behind in the military practices and it 
was a problem to reorganise them to the martial tune. 

But, despite these difficulties, the Guru was determined to take steps 
to avenge his father's death and also to inspire his countrymen to rise 
and resist the tyranny of the Mughals. Thus, there were two powerful 
impulses which made him an irreconcilable foe of the Mughals. One, the 
impulse of avenging his own wrongs, i.e., his father's unjust execution 
and the other, to avenge his country's wrongs. With this clear-cut goal 
before him, he resolved upon awakening his followers to a new life, and 
finally decided that his Sikhs or devotees should also be taught to wield 
the sword to defend themselves, their religion, and their country. 

Thus Gobind Singh was not destined to have peace in his life time. 
He was born in conflict. He was brought up in conflict. He lived in 
conflict and he died in conflict. This conflict was not of his own making. 
It was an age of conflict. Conflict was thrust upon him by the force of 
circumstances, and he had full measure of it. It was a holy conflict. He 
aimed at regenerating a decaying people. He endeavoured to create a 
new nation. He planned to lay the foundation of a new society based 
upon justice and freedom of conscience. He designed to promulgate the 
principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. 179 

At the age of nine Gobind Singh experienced his father's sacrifice in 
the cause of religious freedom. Between the age of nine and thirty-nine, 
in thirty years, he had to fight as many as twenty battles, nine before the 
creation of the Khalsa and eleven afterwards. He had enemies all around. 
He had little resources in men, money and material. Within a week in 
December 1705, A.D., he laid at the altar his mother and all four of his 
sons. Besides, thousands of his devoted followers were launched into 
eternity. Eventually at the young age of forty-two he shuffled off this 
mortal coil in the cause of freedom and in the service of humanity. Can 
there be a greater and nobler sacrifice than this? The legacy left behind 
by him was that of sacrifice, service, self-support and self-respect. Bulleh 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Shah, a celebrated Sufi Muslim saint of Punjab was a contemporary of 
Guru Gobind Singh. He pays a glowing tribute to the Guru thus: I 
neither say of the past, nor do I speak of the future; but I talk of the time 
of Guru Gobind Singh and declare openly that but for him all the 
Hindus could have been converted to a foreign culture and religion. 180 

There, however, also existed some factors which went in his favour. 
The movement which had been founded by Baba Nanak, had by this 
time developed into the creation of a separate sect with its own language 
and scripture, with its separate beliefs and practices and separate centres 
of pilgrimage and sources of spiritual and cultural enlightenment. This 
new sect also had developed, by the time of the tenth Guru, a sufficiently 
strong tradition of valour and sacrifice. And for the Guru, such a past 
"was not a mean asset in the glorious career upon which he was about 
to enter". 181 

The policy of non-violence had failed. After violence in the time of 
Guru Hargobind, non-violence had been tried fully in the time of his 
successors again. The sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur itself promised no 
lasting escape from theocratic tyranny. The silent sufferings and the 
sacrifice of the ninth Guru had changed the atmosphere. It had shaken 
some Hindu thinking minds from their age-old slumber and they were 
now willing to be organised for the protection of their honour and self- 
respect. Among the Muslims themselves now a sort of definite division 
seemed to have been created. Many remained fanatic with their 
proselytizing zeal, specially so among the ruling classes; but among the 
general mass of the people a process of re-examining the persecuting 
behaviour had commenced. 

Aurangzeb, too, was at this time busy in Deccan and had "left the 
Punjab free for any enterprising spirit to mature plans". 182 In the south 
Shivaji had succeeded and had crowned himself as a king at Raigarh in 
1674 A.D. Jats near Delhi, though once beaten by the imperial forces, 
were continuing their resistance. The tribesmen in the north-west 
frontiers were raising their head and threatening peace in the adjoining 
territories. There were disorderly elements in Bengal and pirates along 
the Bengal coast had been keeping the Bengal Governor, Shayista Khan, 
busy since long. About a hundred miles south-west of Delhi, the 
Satnamis were organising themselves to make the Mughal life difficult: 
the Mughals were in fact on a waning \glory. 

Nor had the destructive religious zeal exhibited by Aurangzeb been 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


applauded by all the sections of the Muslim society abroad. The religious 
policy followed by Aurangzeb in India was considered anti-Islamic by 
the Khalifa at Mecca who refused to receive an ambassador from the 
Emperor. Shah Abbas of Iran hated the religious policy of Aurangzeb 
likewise. And in India, too, there were not a few well-meaning Muslims 
who considered him to be a misled compatriot. Some Muslims such as 
Pir Budhu Shah openly sided with the Guru and gave him every 
assistance, material as well as physical, in the realisation of his aim. And 
not a few of the Muslims enlisted themselves in the Guru's army to fight 
for his cause. 

The Mughal army itself were getting demoralised. Its soldiers, ill- 
paid mercenaries, had lost their old zeal and strength, and many had 
deserted it in the thick of the troubles. Quite a few of them later offered 
themselves to fight for the Guru. Such was the state of things when Guru 
Tegh Bahadur broke his potsherd on the head of Aurangzeb in Delhi, 
and when Gobind Rai became a young Guru. The best recruits to the 
Sikh faith were the Jats of Majha and Malwa. Their character was 
martial, and they were great lovers of freedom. The greatest testimony to 
the constructive genius of the Guru would be only if he could seize what 
was vital in the situation and, as Cunningham writes, relume it with 
Promethean fire. 183 The Sikhs gave the Guru the ideal, the material, and 
combining the two, the Guru actually forged, a dynamic force, which 
none could henceforward ignore/' 184 

Indubhushan Banerjee divides the career of Guru Gobind from the 
period of his installation on the Gaddi to his death into two distinct 

1. The pre-Khalsa period which extended from 1675 to 1699 A.D.; 

2. The post-Khalsa period from 1699 A.D. till his death which 
occurred in 1708 A.D. 

FIRST PERIOD (1675 A.D.— 1699 A.D.) 

Conflict with Kahlur 

Anandpur was situated in the state of Kahlur, later called Bilaspur. 
Bhim Chand (1667-1712 A.D.) was its ruler. There were several causes of 
friction between the Raja and the Guru. Bhim Chand did not like the 
large Sikh gatherings and their warlike activities in the vicinity of his 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

capital. His headquarters at Kot Kahlur stood fifteen kilometres from 
Anandpur on the Naina Devi rangs at the north-western end. 

A huge kettle-drum called Ranjit Nagara was installed at the gate of 
Gobind's residence. It was beaten regularly every morning and evening 
as a symbol of sovereignty and it echoed for miles around. The Raja 
objected to this practice. He declared that it was the privilege of the ruler 
alone. The young Guru paid no heed to his protest. 185 

Meanwhile, a prince of Assam, Raja Rattan Rai, whose parents had 
met Guru Tegh Bahadur and had sought his blessings for the birth of a 
son, came to Anandpur in fulfilment of his father's vow. He presented 
Gobind a baby-elephant, named Prasadi. The young elephant had been 
trained to perform various acts of service and devotion. He held a jug of 
water, washed the Guru's feet and then dried them with a towel. He 
wiped the Guru's shoes and arranged them properly for him to put on. 
He fetched an arrow discharged by Guru Gobind. He waved peacock 
feathers in a knot over the Guru. At night he held two lighted torches 
and showed the way to Guru Gobind. It was black as a coal, had a 
beautiful white stripe stretching from the tip of his trunk, along the 
forehead and back right up to the tip of its tail. Its fame spread far and 
wide and many people came to see it. 186 The possession of an elephant 
was another symbol of sovereignty and it considerably enhanced Guru 
Gobind's prestige. 

Other costly presents or offerings to the Guru from Raja Ratan Rai 
were five horses with golden trappings, a weapon out of which five sorts 
of arms could be made, first a pistol, then by pressing a batton a sword, 
then a lance, then a dagger and finally a club. A throne from which, by 
pressing a button, puppets emerged and played chauper and, a drinking 
cup of great value and several costly and beautiful jewels and raiment. 187 

About the same time a Sikh from Kabul named Duni Chand brought 
as his offering a costly tent to be used by Guru Gobind for holding a 
durbar. It was made of the finest silk fabrics having numerous pictures 
woven on it in threads of gold and strings of pearls hanging all around. 
The flooring was covered with lovely Persian carpets. 

All this touched the pride of Bhim Chand. He could not tolerate a 
sovereign state springing up within his state. Besides, the Mughal 
Governors of Sarhind, Lahore, and lammu, incited the Raja of Kahlur to 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


nip the rising power of Gobind in the bud. They also frightened him of 
the wrath of the Emperor if the Guru was allowed to gain power. 188 

First Battle of Anandpur (1682 A.D.) 

Bhim Chand decided to assert his authority over the Guru. He 
demanded the elephant and the tent on loan for a few days on the 
occasion of the betrothal of his son. His real intention was never to 
return them back. Guru Gobind knew it and put off the Raja's agent on 
the plea that the donors had forbidden their lending to anyone else. 
Bhim chand led an expedition against Anandpur, but he was beaten off. 
This took place in 1682 A.D. when Guru Gobind was hardly sixteen 
years of age. 189 

Second Battle of Anandpur (1685 A.D.) 

Relations between Guru Gobind and Bhim Chand of Kahlur 
remained tense. Skirmishes frequently occurred between the two parties. 
Intrigues were going on to uproot the Guru from Anandpur and break 
his power. Bhim Chand formed an alliance with the Rajas of Kangra and 
Guler. The allies attacked Anandpur in the beginning of 1685 A.D. but 
were repulsed. 190 

Raja Medni Prakash was quite friendly with the Guru. Cordial 
relations had existed between the Gurus and rulers of Sirmaur state since 
the time of Guru Har Rai who had lived at Nahan for twelve years. Raja 
Medni Prakash (1684 A.D. to 1704 A.D.) knew of the feud existing 
between Anandpur and Kahlur. He invited the Guru to settle down in 
his state. The Guru was unwilling to leave Anandpur, but he was 
persuaded by his mother to accept the invitation because a couple of 
skirmishes had already taken place between the Raja and the Guru and 
a big battle was expected at any time. The Guru's mother and maternal 
uncle, Kripal Chand, wanted to avoid it. 

The Guru was duly greeted by Raja Medni Prakash and here again 
the Guru busied himself with hunting and other such activities. It is said 
that once when the Raja went with the Guru on a hunting excursion, he 
told him that Fateh Shah had often quarrelled with him on the ground 
where they stood and requested the Guru to build there a fort for the 
protection of the state. The Guru accepted'the proposal, the foundations 
of the fort were duly laid and in due time the fort was ready, which was 
named Paunta. The Guru stayed there and continued to strengthen his 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

army and enlist Muhammedans as well as the Hindus who presented 
themselves for his service. 

At Paunta, the young Gobind began to think about the sins and 
sufferings of his countrymen. He felt that they were the victims of two 
types of tyranny. First, the political tyranny of the alien rulers who 
would not grant them even the elementary rights of citizenship — 
freedom of religion and security of life, honour and prosperity. Secondly, 
the centuries old religious tyranny of the priestly class, the Brahmins 
who, through a religion of empty rituals, had been exploiting the 
ignorant and superstitious Hindus to their advantage. A writer has 
rightly observed: "The political tyranny was discriminate and occasional, 
but the religious tyranny was indiscriminate and continuous, being 
practised every day in kitchen, at village wells, in temples, and hundreds 
of other places of mutual resort." 191 The Guru, therefore, decided to give 
a bold and determined fight to both the religious and the political 
tyranny. As a first step to achieve this, he tried to acquaint and equip 
himself with every branch of knowledge. He went through the Ramayana 
and the Mahabharata and gained a good deal of knowledge from the 
incidents and stories of those great epics. He even got translated some of 
the portions of these great works into Hindi and Gurmukhi in order to 
foster a new spirit of self-reliance among his followers and thus "to steel 
their hearts against injustice and tyranny". In this great literary 
programme, the Guru was assisted by as many as fifty-two poets of great 
eminence. It was in the course of these literary pursuits that Guru 
Gobind Singh had "developed a style which, for martial cadence, variety 
of forms and richness of imagination, has remained unsurpassed since 
his times". 

Besides awakening his men through literature, Guru Gobind Singh 
began to exhort them to pay proper attention to their bodies. They were 
asked to take active interest in all kinds of sports and it is said that he 
began to train them in riding, archery and sword-play. He also enlisted 
some Pathan mercenaries in his army to increase his strength and also to 
give his followers further training in the methods of warfare. Arms, 
horses and money were pouring in from all sides. One Sikh presented 
one hundred horses which he had purchased in Kashmir. 192 Youngmen 
of dash and daring were retained in attendance. Five Pathan Sardars of 
village Damala in Tahsil Jagadhri of Ambala district, not far from Paunta, 
were out of job. Their names were Kale' Khan, Najabat Khan, Bhikhan 
Khan, Hayat Khan and Umar Khan. They were great warriors. Five 
hundred Pathan soldiers were with them. All of them were disciples of 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Pir Budhu Shah of Sadhaura. 193 They were in search of employment. The 
Pir took them to the Guru. On the recommendation of the Pir, the Guru 
took them in his service. Each Sardar was paid Rs. 5 daily and each 
soldier one rupee. 194 They trained Sikh soldiers. 

The Battle of Bhangani (April 16, 1689 A.D.) 195 

These warlike activities alarmed the hill Rajas. They were frightened 
of the growing power and popularity of Guru Gobind. The over- 
whelming number of his low-caste followers was a threat to their deep 
rooted caste prejudices. Further, the democratic spirit among the Sikhs 
were opposed to the feudal system and divine right of rulers in the area. 
The taking as wives of pretty hill girls by Sikhs and Pathans was highly 
objectionable to them. They also felt that the Guru was trying to establish 
a virtual principality amid mountain fastnesses to serve as the base of his 
operations against the Mughal government. They were also under 
instruction from Delhi to crush the Guru. 196 

But the immediate reason was something else. The son of Raja Bhim 
Chand of Kahlur was to marry the daughter of Fateh Shah, the Raja of 
Garhwal. The direct and shortest route to Srinagar from Kahlur passed 
over the river Yamuna near Paunta. The marriage party accompanied by 
a strong contingent of troops proceeded thither. Bhim Chand remained 
in the rear as he did not like to meet the Guru. His son Ajmer Chand, the 
bridegroom, with Wazir Parma Nand and the troops reached the ferry on 
the Yamuna. Their passage was obstructed by the Sikhs. Parma Nand 
waited on the Guru. The bridegroom's party with a small escort was 
allowed to pass, while the main body was turned away. Bhim Chand 
took a longer route. The Guru's earlier defiances at Anandpur coupled 
with that at Paunta, invited Bhim Chand 's wrath on Guru Gobind. 197 

Guru Gobind was also invited by Fateh Shah on the marriage. Guru 
himself did not go to Srinagar, but he sent a present of one lakh and a 
quarter through Pandit Daya Ram under escort of Diwan Nand Chand 
with 200 chosen horsemen. At the time of marriage Fateh Shah's priest 
announced Guru's gift for the bride. Bhim Chand was red with rage. He 
declared outright rejection of Guru's present and expulsion of his men 
would enable him to have the nuptial ceremony performed, otherwise he 
would immediately turn back without the bride. 

The situation became tense. Fateh Shah was forced to yield. The 
Guru says that Raja Fateh Shah got angry with him and the battle was 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

thrust upon him without any reason. 198 Bhim Chand planned to plunder 
the party and kill all the Sikhs. Nand Chand got the hint. He took 
possession of his gifts and fled away. Bhim Chand said the Sikhs had 
robbed them of both dowry presents and honour. This was an insult not 
only to him but to all the Rajas present there. The Guru was an enemy 
of their religion as he was opposed to idol worship. He persuaded Fateh 
Shah to lead an assault on the Guru in the company of all the Rajas. The 
bride and bridegroom, under a suitable escort were sent straight to 
Kahlur. All others got ready for the battle. It also appears likely that the 
Delhi government had incited the hill Rajas to crush the Guru. The hill 
Rajas who were present there and who assented to attack the Guru were 
the following: Fateh Shah of Garhwal, Bhim Chand of Bilaspur, Kripal 
Chand of Kangra, Sidhsen of Mandi, Gopal Chand of Guler, Hari Chand 
of Hindur, Kesari Chand Jaspal, Umed Singh of Jaswan, Dayal Chand of 
Kotgarh, Karam Chand of Bharmaur, Daya Singh of Nurpur, Gurbhaj 
Singh of Indaurah, Bhag Singh of Talokpur, Hari Chand of Kotiwal and 
Lachhu Chand of Kotkhai. Raja Medni Prakash of Sirmaur remained 
neutral, though the battle was to be fought in his territory. 

On the other hand, when the Guru got the intelligence regarding 
such developments, he intensified his preparations. Of the 500 Pathans 
enlisted by Pir Budhu Shah in the Guru's army, 400 deserted him. Only 
Kale Khan with 100 Pathans under his command remained loyal. The 
400 Pathans joined the already large army of the Hill Rajas and 
encouraged these chiefs by saying: "The Guru's main dependence is on 
us. The rest of his army is a miscellaneous rabble who have never seen 
war, and will run away when they hear the first shot fired." They joined 
the Hill Rajas' army without pay with a promise that they would be 
permitted to plunder the riches of the Guru. The Udasis also fled, hearing 
of the approaching war. Only one of them, Mahant Kirpal Das, remained 
with the Guru. Budhu Shah was immediately informed of the 
misconduct of the Pathans who, to wipe away this disgrace, placed 
himself, his brother, his four sons and 700 disciples at the Guru's 
disposal. The Guru selected Bhangani, six miles from Paunta, as the 
battlefield and marched his forces thither. The enemy crossed the 
Yamuna a few kilometres above Paunta. The Guru took up his position 
on a hillock. The hill troops occupied the plains below. The fighting was 
tough and hard. The Guru gave a vivid description of the battle, several 
skirmishes and the duels. In an engagement the Guru's horse was killed 
by an arrow of Hari Chand of Hindur. Another arrow grazed his ear, 
while the third penetrated the buckle of his waist belt and pricked his 
body. The Guru's general and cousin Sango Shah, with his four brothers, 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Jitmal, Gulab Rae, Sangat Rae and Hari Chand, all of whom were the 
sons of Bibi Viro, daughter of Guru Har Gobind, fought hard. Sango 
Shah killed Najabat Khan. Pir Budhu Shah's two sons and Sango Shah 
were killed. On the side of the Hill Rajas, Hari Chand of Hindur was 
killed by the Guru. Fateh Shah and Bhim Chand took to flight. The Udasi 
saint Kirpal Das killed Hayat Khan. Rama carpenter of Chandalgarh had 
prepared two guns in the hollow trunks of two imli trees (tamarindus 
indicus). Their smoke and dust of the earth created darkness and 
enabled Guru's men to fall upon the enemy. Mulchand, a confectioner in 
Guru's camp, fought bravely. 199 

In his autobiography (Bichitra Natak) the Guru has given a graphic 
description of the battle. He described how he himself led his forces and 
killed the two great generals of the enemies, namely, Bhikan Khan and 
Hari Chand. With the death of their generals, the army of the hill chiefs 
lost heart and began to retreat. This battle was fought for about nine 
hours. By nightfall the enemy troops were nowhere to be seen. The 
Guru's Sikhs had done a good job. They had displayed great skill in the 
use of sabres, slashing, slaughtering and shooting. The bodies on both 
sides were thrown into the river. The wounded were taken care of. With 
the beat of drum the victorious Guru returned to Paunta. Pir Budhu Shah 
was granted a robe of honour. 

The victory in this battle instilled a great hope and confidence among 
his followers. It convinced them that, if properly organised and trained, 
they would be able to fight successfully against every type of tyranny. 
The Guru thereafter decided to leave his hilly retreat of Paunta and again 
returned to Kahlur where he settled at Anandpur. Besides, the tough 
fight that the Guru had given at Bhangani made a deep impression upon 
the Hill Rajas and they now began to regard the Guru's power with the 
seriousness it deserved. 

The Guru had won a great victory, yet he did not acquire an inch of 
land or subdue a state, exterminate its authorities and establish a 
political power. This disinterestedness of the Guru spread his fame far 
and wide and people flocked around him in ever greater number. The 
Guru's arms supply increased and a large number of people offered 
themselves to be enrolled in the Guru's army. 

The battle of Bhangani is said to be an event which set the events 
rolling towards a major clash between the Guru and the Mughals. The 
Mughals had thought the Guru would be destroyed in his clash with the 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

hill Rajas and, according to some accounts, they had encouraged these 
chiefs towards that direction. But this battle convinced them that the 
Guru was becoming too formidable a power. They lost their confidence 
in the hill Rajas as a weapon against the Guru, and it was doubtful if 
these chiefs would now occupy the same privileged position in the 
Mughal eyes as before. The politics which emerged as a result of this 
battle was, therefore, confused. And the hill Rajas proved to be perfectly 
immature politicians, buffeted about like pebbles on the sea shore, 
sometimes aligning themselves with this power and sometimes with 
that. So it exposed the hollowness of the prowess of the hill Rajas. It 
convinced the hill Rajas that they could not evict the Guru from 
Anandpur without the support of the Mughal government. Thus, it 
paved the way for Mughal-Sikh conflict. 

The Battle of Nadaun (1690 A.D.) 

Guru Gobind, immediately after the victory of Bhangani, left Paunta 
and again shifted to the territory of Kahlur chief.- He was confident that 
in case of further trials of strength by Bhim Chand he would be able to 
hold his own. The Guru was in the habit of taking quick decisions and 
executing them instantly. 

The Guru's arrival at Anandpur did not disturb the equanimity of 
the Rajas of Kangra hills. Finding Aurangzeb too heavily involved in the 
Deccan, the Rajas wished to stop payment of their tribute. A coalition 
was formed under the leadership of Bhim Chand. His allies were Gopal 
Chand of Guler, Ram Singh of Jaswan, Prithvi Chand Dadwal, Kesari 
Chand Jaswal and Sukhdev of Jasrota. Guru Gobind Singh won over to 
their side. Forster says that on his return, the Guru "was hospitably 
received by a marauding Hindoo chief of that quarter/' 200 To avoid 
listening to the beating of Guru's drum and to be farther away from the 
Sikhs and the Mughals, Bhim Chand shifted his capital into the interior 
on the left bank of the river Satluj, 2000 feet above sea level. He named 
it Vyaspur after the name of the famous saint Vyas or Bias. It became 
corrupted into Bilaspur. The state also came to be known by the same 

The Kangra hills were under the charge of the governor of Jammu. 
At this time Mian Khan held this post. He despatched a force under Alif 
Khan in 1690. He took up position at Nadaun on the banks of river Beas, 
32 kilometres south-east of Kangra. Raja Kirpal Chand of Kangra and 
Raja Dayal of Bijharwal joined Alif Khan. After a hard battle, the allies 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


were successful and Alif Khan took to flight leaving behind all his 
baggage. The Guru stayed here for eight days and visited various places 
there. Meanwhile Bhim Chand made peace with Kripal Chand of Kangra 
without Consulting the Guru and agreed to pay tribute to the Mughal 
court. The Guru left for Anandpur in disgust. On the way, Sikhs 
plundered Alsun because the inhabitants had refused to sell supplies to 
them. 201 According to Giani Gian Singh, the inhabitants of Alsun had 
thrice before looted the Sikhs and now again insulted some of them 
which resulted in their being plundered. 

Rustam Khan's Expedition against the Guru (1691 A.D.) 

After repulsing Alif Khan and the submission of hill Rajas, Mian 
Khan, the Governor of Jammu, urged the Governor of Lahore to take 
suitable action against the Guru who alone remained defiant in the 
region. His deputy Dilawar Khan 202 sent a force under his son Rustam 
Khan. The expedition seems to have been organised in the winter of 1691 
A.D. The young man wanted to take Anandpur by surprise. He arrived 
at night opposite Anandpur and encamped in the bed of a dry nullah. By 
chance it rained heavily and the rivulet was flooded. Many of his men 
and most of his baggage were carried away. The Guru called it Himayati 
Nullah or friendly rivulet 203 

The Guru's drum was beaten at 3 o'clock in the morning to awaken 
the Sikhs so that they were ready for prayer by 4 o'clock. Many Sikhs 
were in the habit of having a dip in the river Satluj, which then flowed 
one km away. They saw a concentration of Mughal troops. They rushed 
back to inform the Guru. He lost no time in reaching the spot at the head 
of a strong force. The Sikhs launched a severe attack on the enemy. There 
was bitter fighting. The guns on both sides played havoc. On account of 
extreme cold and the sudden attack, the Mughal soldiers could not hold 
their ground and fled away, leaving behind their weapons. On their way 
back they plundered and laid waste the village Barwa in Thana Nurpur, 
tehsil and district Una, and encamped at village Bhalan in the same 
police station. 204 

The Expedition of Hussain Khan (1693 A.D.) 

Soon Rustam Khan returned home and .hung his head in shame. 
Thereupon Hussain, a slave of Dilawar Khan, offered to march against 
the Guru. So Dilawar Khan despatched a stronger expedition under 
Hussain Khan in the beginning of 1693 A.D. .The Mughal general 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

expected a long siege of Anandpur. For that purpose he needed ready 
money. In internal expeditions the general rule was that war victims 
must be made to pay for war. Hussain Khan also wished to secure his 
rear in order to maintain a constant source of supplies. These objectives 
involved him inextricably with the hill chiefs. On the way he defeated 
Madhukar Shah, the Raja of Dadwal, and took his sons prisoners. He 
plundered the countryside in the neighbourhood unopposed. Kripal 
Chand Katoch of Kangra and Bhim Chand of Bilaspur submitted to him 
without offering any resistance. Their example was followed by Raja 
Gopal of Guler and Raja Ram Singh of Jaswan. Hussain Khan demanded 
money from the Rajas in order to subdue the Guru. They offered him 
certain amounts which were considered too small. The Raja of Guler had 
brought Rs. 4000 instead of Rs. 10,000 claimed from him. Being publicly 
insulted, the Raja fled back along with the money he had brought. Raja 
Gopal's fort was besieged. 

By this time Guru had sent his agent named Sangat Rae to help Raja 
Gopal in negotiations. At his suggestion and on Hussain Khan's 
assurance of safety, Raja Gopal Chand visited Hussain Khan. Kripal 
Chand Katoch was his enemy. He prevailed upon Hussain Khan to take 
him prisoner. Raja Gopal managed to flee. A bloody battle was fought. 
On one side were Hussain Khan, Kripal Katoch, Bhim Chand, Himmat 
Singh and Hari Singh. Raja Gopal was helped by Guru's commanders 
Lai Chand, Ganga Ram, Kripa Ram and Agri Singh Brar with 300 select 
soldiers, and Raja Ram Singh of Jaswan. In the action Hussain Khan, 
Kripal Katoch and Himmat Singh were killed. Agri Singh and Sangat 
Rae with seven Sikhs also perished. Gopal made large offerings to the 
Guru who remained safe as Anandpur was not attacked. The Guru calls 
it the Husaini battle in Bichitra Natak. The Guru writes: "Gopal was 
victorious and the battle came to an end. Everybody then went home 
and the rain of bullets that was originally intended for me, was 
showered by the Almighty elsewhere." 205 

Battles between 1694-96 A.D. 

On November 20, 1693, A.D., Aurangzeb was informed that Guru 
Gobind had been creating trouble in the province of Sarhind and that 
local authorities had failed to subdue him. Aurangzeb issued orders to 
his Governors of Delhi, Sarhind, Lahore and Jammu to stop the Guru 
from collecting Sikhs at Anandpur. A newsletter stated: "News from 
Sarhind. Gobind declares himself to be Guru Nanak. Faujdars ordered to 
prevent him from assemblage." 206 A special order was issued to the 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Governor of Sarhind "to admonish Gobind, son of Tegh Bahadur". 207 As 
a consequence, a number of expeditions were planned between 1694 and 
1696 A.D., but all of them failed to achieve anything. In the absence of 
any definite details we put their number at two only. 208 

Expedition of Jujhar Singh (1697 A.D.) 

The Emperor was exasperated. In the Deccan Raja Ram, the younger 
son of Shivaji, had made life hard for him. In the north he was expecting 
the same stiff resistance from Guru Gobind. In order to secure the most 
reliable report about the Guru, Aurangzeb despatched Jujhar Singh, a 
Rajput prince. His deputy was Chandan Rae. They joined Rustam Khan, 
representative of Dilawar Khan. Gaj Singh Jaswal was commissioned by 
the Guru to intercept his force. He lay in ambush and finding his prey 
near, attacked them at Bhalan village in Thana Nurpur of Una district, 
and drove them away. In a desperate fight both Raja Jujhar Singh and 
Chandan Rae were killed. The enemy failed to reach Anandpur and 
retired to Lahore 209 

Prince Muazzam's march into the Hills (1698 A.D.) 

The news of these repeated disasters at last reached the Emperor in 
the Deccan. He, thereupon, asked his son, prince Muazzam, to pay 
personal attention to these rebellions in the Punjab hills. Prince 
Muazzam, later Emperor Bahadur Shah, was imprisoned by Aurangzeb 
in 1686 A.D. and was set free in 1691 A.D. He remained viceroy of north- 
west region, including Punjab and Afghanistan from 1696 to 1699 A.D. 210 
He resided at Kabul and occasionally visited other provinces. He came 
to Lahore and sent a large force under Mirza Beg against the Guru and 
the hill chiefs. Mirza Beg won some initial successes and reduced all the 
hill chiefs to submission. But he could not crush the power of Guru 
Gobind. It is said that it was mainly due to the influence of Bhai Nand 
Lai, Mir Munshi of Prince Muazzam, that large-scale and effective 
measures were not taken against the Guru. Bhai Nand Lai was a devotee 
of Guru Gobind and he told his master that it was not proper on his part 
to wage a regular war against saints. Besides, the Prince thought that a 
liberal treatment of the Guru might result in making him a peaceful 
subject of the empire. Furthermore, the Prince considered the Guru as a 
Darvesh as he later on declared in one of his firmans or royal rescripts. 211 
Besides, he had seen the Guru's vast resources in men and material. He 
knew that Guru's young disciples made good soldiers who were ever 
ready to lay down their lives at his bidding. Emperor Aurangzeb was 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

then very old. The struggle for the throne was imminent, and he was 
keen on securing Guru's spiritual, material and military help. Nand Lai 
seems to have wielded his personal influence with the Prince in favour 
of the Guru. Thus, because of Bhai Nand Lai's influence in the court of 
the Prince, the Guru got some breathing time and during this period, he 
reorganised his followers and created what is known as the Khalsa. 

Battle with Alam Chand and Balia Chand 

Soon after the Guru himself was called upon to fight an action. The 
neighbouring hill chiefs were jealous of the growing power of the Guru. 
Besides, the repeated raids of the Sikhs in the hostile territories 
constantly reminded some of the chiefs of the growing danger. And, 
therefore, they were always in search of an opportunity to do a short 
work of the Guru. One day, it is said, when the Guru went out for a 
hunting in the Doon, with only a small number of the Sikhs, two hill 
chiefs Alam Chand and Balia Chand, finding an easy opportunity, fell 
upon him. The Sikhs, a small number of them as it was, gave a 
determined fight, but being too few they had to retreat a little in the face 
of a strong opposition from the enemy. The Guru, seeing this, advanced 
and the Sikh's gathering courage resumed the fight. Meanwhile, a timely 
reinforcement under Ude Singh also arrived and the situation was saved. 
Alam Chand lost his right arm and left the battlefield. Balia Chand 
continued, but he too later fell wounded and their soldiers took to heels. 
The Guru returned victorious. 

Fortification of Anandpur 

The Guru was in perpetual danger from the hill Rajas and the 
Mughal governors. He wanted to live in peace, but he was determined 
to take defensive measures. For that purpose he erected five forts all 
around the town: Keshgarh at the centre, Anandgarh, 500 metres to the 
east, Lohgarh, one kilometre to the south, Holgarh, one and a half 
kilometres in the west, Fatehgarh, one and a half kilometres to the north. 
Anandgarh and Keshgarh were built on hill tops. All were located at 
strategic places. Fatehgarh, Holgarh and Lohgarh were situated on the 
banks of Charan Ganga. All the forts could take big guns. They were 

joined together with skilfully constructed earthworks and underground 
tunnels. The construction began in 1689 and took ten years to be 
completed. The strongest fort was Anandgarh. It still exists. For water 
supply, a huge well was dug up. It was worked by a Persian wheel. The 
well and the wheel are still there. He also set up an arsenal in it. 212 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 



(1699 A.D.— 1708 A.D.) 

The creation of the Khalsa in 1699 was not looked at with favour by 
most of the hill chiefs. Firstly, his denunciation of the caste system and 
image worship was a direct attack on their religious beliefs. Secondly, 
they saw in the democratic teachings and the military zeal of the Guru, 
a serious menace to their influence and independence. Raja Bhim Chand 
of Kahlur, in whose jurisdiction the headquarter of the Khalsa, Anandpur, 
was situated, felt much more concerned than any other hill chief. He 
wanted a pretext to turn the Guru out of his state and, therefore, wrote 
to the Guru that he should pay a huge sum of money as rent of 
Anandpur for the period he had occupied it. This was quite 
unreasonable and the Guru naturally turned down his demand. 
Consequently, Raja Bhim Chand, in alliance with other hill chiefs, 
invaded the Sikh territory and besieged Anandgarh. The Sikhs, though 
greatly outnumbered, fought with determined courage and succeeded in 
saving their fortress. 

Guru Gobind Singh had to fight twelve battles after the creation of 
the Khalsa. Of these, six took place at Anandpur and the rest at 
Nirmohgarh, Basali, Kiratpur, Sarsa, Chamkaur and Khidrana or 
Muktsar. The Khalsa took readily to the sword straight from the plough 
and sickle, and fought with the trained and professional soldiers as 
bravely as they had battled with all the potent forces of nature. These 
people were loyal to their leader, faithful to their word, fond of their 
country, loved their wives and children, looking upon treason and 
impurity as the greatest of crimes. These men were rough, strong, and 
uncultivated, and offered a fierce and protracted resistance under the 
inspiration of Guru Gobind Singh. Their work was not war for its own 
sake, but to slay this dragon, the devouring enemy of their faith. 

First Battle of Anandpur (1699 A.D.) 

The hill chiefs were very much perturbed at the growing power of 
the Guru. The Kitalsa, a militant force, created by the Guru, had given 
them a fright. They were of the view that in course of time the Khalsa 
would eliminate them. They were also pressed from Delhi to get the 
Guru evicted from their territory. Emperor Aurangzeb also had issued 
orders to his Governors in Punjab to crush the power of the Guru. 
Macauliffe says that the Viceroy of Delhi despatched a force of ten 
thousand men under his two generals, Painda Khan and Dina Beg. The 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

hill chiefs joined them at Rupar. The Guru met the enemy near 
Anandpur. In a battle Painda Khan was killed. Dina Beg and the hill 
Rajas fled away. They were pursued by the Khalsa for some distance., A 
large booty in the form of horses, arms and baggage fell into the hands 
of the Sikhs. 213 

Second Battle of Anandpur (1699 A.D.) 

After this defeat, the hill Rajas formed a coalition and decided to act 
in concert with one another, independently of the Mughals. Bhim Chand 
of Bilaspur became their leader. He sent a message to the Guru to vacate 
Anandpur as it lay in his territory and settle somewhere else or face the 
Rajas' army. Sainapat in Gur-Sobha says: 

He sent a message in writing 
Guruji, vacate our land or 
Pay tribute, or fight. 214 

The Guru, however, refused any of the two alternatives, saying that 
the land where the town of Anandpur developed had been purchased by 
his father and hence there was no question of paying any rent. He 
accepted the alternative of another trial in the battlefield. Receiving this 
reply, the hill chiefs were enraged and they marched their combined 
forces on Anandpur. As they approached the city, the eldest son of the 
Guru, Prince Ajit Singh, fell upon Gujjars and Ranghars with his four 
thousand Sikhs; while Daya Singh, Alim Singh and Ude Singh, taking 
with them the Sikhs of Majha, directed their attacks against the hill 
armies. "Such was the dash and vigour displayed by them that the hill 
armies, though far superior in numbers and equipment, were reduced to 
a sore plight and towards the close of the day were forced to retreat." 215 
Thus ended the first day's fight yielding complete victory to the Sikhs. 
The story was repeated on the next day ,and the hill chiefs now decided 
the blockade of the town to be the safest alternative. 

The town was now closely invested and the siege continued for full 
twenty days, 216 but without any visible success. At last, at the suggestion 
of Kesri Chand, a drunken elephant with a spear projecting from his 
forehead and his body covered with steel, followed by hill chiefs and 
their armies, was directed to gatecrash through the fort. The Guru 
appointed Bachitar Singh, one of his personal bodyguards, to meet the 
elephant. The Sikh proceeded with such a vehemence on a horse that 
when he struck his spear on the elephant's forehead, it pierced deep, and 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


the elephant turned back with a loud cry and trod underfoot many of its 
own men, thus causing a complete confusion among them. The Sikhs fell 
upon this confused mass of their opponents and did several noted chiefs 
to death. But finding themselves greatly outnumbered, they later on 
retired into the fort. 

As the night fell, the hill chiefs met together and reviewed the 
situation. Ultimately, resolving to play a trick on the Guru they wrote a 
letter to him acknowledging his unconquerable might, but requesting 
him to leave Anandpur at least for one day to save them from the shame 
and humiliation which would be involved in their retreat in that 
condition. They also swore by the cow that they would not put the Guru 
to any harm. Determined to demonstrate the faithlessness of the hill 
chiefs, as some records say, the Guru, entrusting the protection of the fort 
to the hands of a brave body of Sikhs, selected a band of warriors and 
retired to Nirmoh, at a distance of about two miles from Anandpur. 

Battle of Nirmoh (1700 A.D.) 

At Nirmoh the Guru stationed himself on an eminence. In the 
meantime, the hill chiefs having thrown their vows to the wind, fell 
upon the small number of the Sikhs who accompanied the Guru. But 
here again they were beaten back. The hill chiefs, however, continued 
their efforts against the Guru. They made one more appeal to Wazir 
Khan, the Governor of Sarhind, for help. After hearing of the defeat of 
the imperial army in the first battle of Anandpur, Aurangzeb himself is 
said to have sent an order to Wazir Khan by this time to proceed against 
the Guru. 

Wazir Khan, thus, proceeded with a large number of troops to the 
assistance of the hill chiefs. The Guru had already been apprised of this 
development. Several Sikhs who had come to Nirmoh to have the Guru's 
Darshan, were detained by him to fight the enemy. The enemy marched 
and the Mughals attacked the Guru from one side, while the hill chiefs 
attacked him from the other. The fight continued fiercely for the whole 
day and as the night fell, the enemy forces were compelled to retreat. The 
next morning, the attack was re-started and the Guru finding himself 
badly outnumbered, decided to retire from the place. An invitation had 
already been received from the Raja of Basali and the Guru proceeded 
thither. The enemy, however, pursued him and the Guru decided to give 
them another battle in which the combined forces of the Mughals and 

The First Battle of Chamkaur (1702 A.D.) 

The peace between the Guru and the hill chiefs did not continue for 
long. Once, it is said, as the Guru lay encamped near Chamkaur, two 
imperial officers going from Lahore to Delhi, were requested by the Raja 
of Kehlur to attack the Guru, promising to pay them large sums of 
money. Though a small contingent, the Sikhs gave a resolute fight to the 
imperial army, but just when the fight was at its height, an amazing 
thing occurred. Sayyid Beg, one of the imperial officers who had already 
heard of the name and fame of the Guru, when saw him in the battlefield 
he was so much impressed by his saintly looks that he, persuading as 
many of his soldiers as he could, joined the Guru. When Alif Khan, the 
other officer, saw it, he left the battlefield and beat a hasty retreat. 217 

victories ana nave oeen aoie to grant guts to otners. it is tnrougn 
their favour that I have acquired knowledge and my enemies have 
been exterminated. Through their favour have I acquired honour 
otherwise there are millions of ordinary mortals like myself. It is a 
great pleasure for me to serve, no other service pleaseth my heart. To 
grant gifts to them is the right thing, to grant gifts to others seemeth 
of no avail to me. To bestow gifts on them beareth fruit in the next 
world and bringeth honour in this, to bestow them on others is of no 
use at all. Let my body, my mind, my head, my wealth and all that 
is mine be dedicated to their service." 220 

These continuous repulses disheartened the Mughal governments of 
Delhi, Sarhind, Lahore and Jammu as well as the Rajas of Kangra hills. 
They wrote to Aurangzeb warning him against the growing power of 
Guru Gobind Singh. They stated that the Emperor's conquests in Deccan 
might lead to the loss of north-western India from Delhi to Kabul. They 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

invited him to take command against the Guru personally and destroy 
his power root and branch. This upset Aurangzeb. He issued strict 
instructions to his Governors and the hill Rajas. He suggested that the 
Guru should be compelled to evacuate Anandpur either by force or by 
fraud and, then, he should either be captured or killed. He despatched 
a personal letter to the Guru holding out a mild threat. He wrote: 

"There is only one Emperor. Thy religion and mine are the same. 
Come to me, by all means, otherwise I shall be angry and go to thee. 
If thou come, thou shalt be treated as holy men are treated by 
monarchs. I have obtained this sovereignty from God. Be well 
advised and thwart not my wishes/' 221 The letter was brought by a 
Qazi to whom the Guru handed over the following reply: "My 
brother, the sovereign who hath made thee Emperor hath sent me 
into the world to do justice. He hath commissioned thee also to do 
justice, but thou hast forgotten his mandate and practisest hypocrisy. 
Wherefore how can I be on good terms with thee who pursuest the 
Hindus with blind hatred? Thou recognisest not that the people 
belong to God and not to the Emperor, and yet thou seekest to 
destroy their religion. 222 

The Battle of Kiratpur (1704 A.D.) 

In September, 1704 A.D. the Mughal forces from Delhi and Sarhind 
and of the Rajas of Kangra hills, Muslim Chiefs, Jagirdars, Ranghars and 
Gujjars of the neighbourhood advanced from the Rupar side to attack 
Anandpur. Guru Gobind Singh marched to Kiratpur to check the enemy. 
According to Muhammad Akbar, "a fierce battle took place near 
Kiratpur. Although the Sikhs are said to have fought very desperately, 
yet they were driven back and the Guru had to take refuge in the fort of 
Anandpur". 223 

The Fifth and the Last Battle of Anandpur (1704 A.D.) 

In this emergency, the Guru invited help from his Sikhs. He issued 
several letters of which only one is quoted below: "Sri Guru Ji addresses 
the letter to Bhai Sukhya, Bhai Mukhya, Bhai Parsa. The Guru would 
take care of all his disciples. Repeat Guru Guru, you will have the best 
in life. The entire community is my Khalsa. Come with cavaliers, 
footmen, gunners and daring youth. Every Sikh young man coming to 
pay respects would be blessed with prosperity. He would flourish fully 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


well. The Guru would fulfil all their desires. Come for a darshan (1704 
A.D.)/' 224 

The Emperor was now alarmed still further. According to Suraj 
Prakash, Bhim Chand of Kahlur himself went to the Emperor to inform 
him of the situation and the Emperor sent express orders to Wazir Khan 
of Sarhind and Zabardast Khan of Lahore to proceed with a large army 
against the Guru. The chiefs of Kahlur, Kangra, Jaswal, Mandi, Kulu, 
Nalagarh, Kaithal, Nurpur, Chamba, Jammu, Busaher, Dhadwal, Darauli, 
Bijarwal and Srinagar (Garhwal) joined their forces and this formidable 
army marched against the Guru to have another trial of strength. 

The guru divided his army into six contingents, each roughly 
consisting of 500 men. They were placed in five forts, while a 
detachment of 500 men, kept in reserve. Anandgarh, was under Guru's 
personal charge. Fatehgarh was entrusted to Udai Singh, Holgarh was 
under the command of Mohkam Singh, Guru's eldest son Ajit Singh 
controlled Keshgarh, while his other son Jujhar Singh held Lohgarh. Ajit 
Singh won a great victory on the very first day by killing Jagatullah, 
leader of Ranghars and Gujjars. 225 

The Guru had mounted two heavy guns, named Baghan, or tigress, 
and Vijayghosh or victory-declaration, on his fort. They were brought into 
action and they wrought a havoc in the enemy ranks. In the first day's 
fight Wazir Khan lost nine hundred men. The siege was conducted with 
great intensity. All means of ingress and egress were completely cut off. As 
the provisions were running short, price of eatables rose very high. Flour 
was selling at two rupees a kilogram in Anandpur. The civilian population 
being hard pressed began to flee. Scarcity also prevailed in the Guru's 
camp. Each soldier was supplied one hundred grams of flour daily. Soon 
provisions were completely exhausted. The Khalsa lived on leaves and 
bark of trees. Water supply from the channel was cut off. Generally, four 
men were sent to fetch one bucket of water. Two men fought the enemy. 
One carried the bucket and the other defended him. 226 

At this time the Jafs of Majha made up their minds to go home. The 
Guru would not permit them to leave. When they persisted, they were 
asked to give in writing that they were not the Khalsa of Guru Gobind 
Singh. Only forty of them put their thumb impression on the disclaimer 
and retired. A small hilly channel taking off from Charan Ganga, 
supplied water to Anandpur. Bhim Chand diverted its course. The 
provision had almost been finished and the inmates lived on whatever 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

they could get. Taking advantage of this situation, Wazir Khan formed a 
plan to capture the Guru alive and send him to Aurangzeb to win his 
pleasure and goodwill. He opened negotiations with the Guru promising 
safe evacuation. Many Sikhs who were starving welcomed this overture. 
They requested Gobind Singh's mother to exert pressure on the Guru to 
accept the offer. The Guru's mother and some Sikhs approached the 
Guru to accept the offer, but to demonstrate the futility of putting 
reliance upon the enemy's promises, the Guru sent but some bullocks 
loaded with rags and stones covered with golden clothes, giving out that 
it was the Guru's treasure and the Sikhs and he himself were to follow 
it. As, however, the bullocks passed through the enemy lines, they were 
looted out only to their disappointment. The Sikhs thus continued to 
hold inside for seven months. Wazir Khan expressed regret for the 
misconduct of some of his troops and produced an autograph letter of 
Aurangzeb as a guarantee for his assurances: 

"I have sworn on the Quran not to harm thee. If I do, may I not find 
a place in God's court hereafter. Cease warfare and come to me. If 
thou desire to come hither, then, go wheresoever thou pleasest." 227 

Aurangzeb's envoy added: 

"O Guru, all who go to the Emperor's court praise thee. On that 
account the Emperor feeleth certain that an interview with you will 
add to his happiness. He has sworn by Muhammad and called God 
to witness that he will not harm thee. The hill Rajas have also sworn 
by the cow and called their idols to witness that they will allow thee 
safe conduct. Bear not in mind anything that hath occurred. The 
attack on thine oxen was not prompted by any Raja. The attackers 
have been generally punished and the ring leaders are in prison. No 
one now, O True Guru, dareth do thee any harm; wherefore, evacuate 
the fort at any rate for the present and come with me to the Emperor. 
Thou mayest afterwards do what thou pleasest." 228 

On hearing this, the Sikhs again pressed the Guru to accept 
capitulation. The Guru's mother supported them. The Guru still refused 
to place any reliance upon the enemy's promises. In this desperate state 
of affairs, the Guru reluctantly agreed to evacuate Anandpur. He 
destroyed a lot of movable property, buried some underground and took 
some valuables with him. The evacuation began at dead of night — 
December 20-21, 1704 A.D. 229 The entire camp was divided into two 
parts. The Guru's mother, wives, two youngest sons and other women of 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


the household together with all the manuscripts prepared by the Guru 
and his scholars left in the first batch. Udai Singh, the bravest 
commander of the Guru, was put in charge of this party at the head of 
two hundred armed horsemen. The Guru had given them a letter for the 
Raja of Nahan requesting him to give shelter to his family. 230 They were 
to follow the direct road to Rupar and he would try to join them on the 
way as soon as possible. It was raining and a swift cold wind was 

The Battle of Bachhora Sahib on the River Sarsa 
(December 21, 1704, A.D.) 

The oath taken by the Hindus on their cow and by the Muslims on 
their Quran was, however, wantonly violated, as the Guru refers to in his 
Zafar-Nama, the letter later written to the Emperor. It is said, as the Guru 
reached the flooded Sarsa, the enemy fell upon him. 231 In the midst of 
rain, cold, darkness and fierce fighting, complete confusion prevailed 
among the Sikhs. Udai Singh and most of his warriors lost their lives. 
Some daring Sikhs pushed their horses into the swirling water forming 
foam against stones and pebbles and carried the Guru's family safely 
across 400 metres, the width of the river, but in this attempt all the 
property and manuscripts were washed away. The Guru's household 
was further divided into two groups. Guru's mother and his two 
younger sons who could not walk or ride for long, were taken by Gangu 
an old domestic servant of the family to his native village Saheri. Mata 
Sundari and Mata Sahib Deva were hurridly led towards Ambala in the 
disguise of rustic women 232 

The Guru also suffered heavily. Having put up a tough fight he also 
threw his horse into the swollen current. Most of his men had been killed 
in the battle and many perished in the flow of the river. When he reached 
the other bank he was left with his two elder sons, Ajit Singh and Jujhar 
Singh, the five beloved ones, and thirty-five other Sikhs, 43 souls in all 
out of about 400. At Rupar, 23 km farther, news was brought to him that 
about a thousand Mughal troops were advancing against him from 
Sarhind, while another force was crossing the river Sarsa. 

The Second Battle of Chamkaur (December 22, 1704 A.D.) 

The Guru realized his delicate position. The enemy was in front and 
at the rear. To his left were the hill states which were equally opposed to 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

him. The Guru rushed towards Chamkaur, 16 kilometres away. When he 
was in its neighbourhood he learnt that the enemy was closing upon 
him. He halted in a garden and sent two Sikhs inside the village to find 
a suitable place of shelter. They chose a mud-built double storeyed house 
with a large open compound. One of its two owners offered his portion. 
The Guru and his Sikhs hurried into it. It took place in the evening on 
December 21, 1704, A.D. The enemy invaded the place on the morning 
of December 22, 1704, A.D. Inayatullah Khan, in his Akakam-e-Alamgiri; 22,3 
says that the haveli was besieged by seven hundred cavalry equipped 
with artillery. But the number appears to be much larger. The house 
would have been blown up in no time. The enemy, however, aimed at 
capturing the Guru alive as it had been done in the case of Shivaji's son 
Shambhuji fifteen years earlier, or eleven years later in the case of Banda 
Singh Bahadur, both of whom were cut to pieces limb by limb. Out of his 
forty 234 men about one-fourth were appointed to defend the gate. An 
equal number was kept in the upper storey to keep a sharp watch on the 
enemy movements. The rest took up their position along the walls to see 
that enemy did not scale over them. 

Bitter fighting ensued. The eager and impetuous men of the Guru 
offered tough resistance. They were raked by the gunners. They received 
the direct fire of the batteries in front. The Sikhs fired from all sides, from 
behind the walls, from the roofs, through every window, through every 
air hole, and through every chink in the doors. But the fighting cost most 
of them their lives. 235 The battle was fought on December 22, 1704, A.D. 
Guru Gobind Singh has referred to it in his first letter addressed later to 
Aurangzeb, thus: 

"What could forty hungry men do when attacked by a numerous 
horde unawares? The oath-breakers suddenly attacked us with 
swords, arrows and muskets. I was forced to engage in the combat 
and I fought with arrows and muskets. When an affair passes beyond 
all remedy, it is lawful to resort to the sword . . . clad in black like a 
fly, they made a sudden charge. Every soldier who advanced from 
behind the wall, was struck by an arrow and fell deluged in blood. 
Those who did not leave the wall, received no injuries and suffered 
no loss. When I saw that Nahar had come out to fight, I instantly 
struck him with an arrow. Instead of fighting he fled away. Many 
other Khans eschewed their idle boast. Then another Afghan 
appeared in the field like a strong current and in the manner of an 
arrow or a bullet. A number of them made a valorous assault, some 
with care and others in madness. Many of the attackers were 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


wounded and two of them lay dead. The despicable Khwaja had not 
the courage to leave the shelter of the wall and come into the open. 
Alas! had I seen his face, I would have unhesitatingly bestowed an 
arrow on him. On both sides many lost their lives and sustained 
wounds by arrows and muskets. Arrows and bullets were discharged 
like fireworks and the earth turned red like tulip. Heads and legs lay 
in heaps as if the playground was littered with balls and sticks. The 
arrows whizzed and the bows twanged and great tumult rose in the 
world. The great noise was so frightful that even the mightiest 
warrior lost his wits. But how could forty, even of the bravest, 
succeed when opposed by a countless body?" 236 In a few hours on a 
single day, the 39th birthday of the Guru, the two tender princes, Ajit 
Singh and Jujhar Singh, still in their teens, three of the five beloved 
ones and thirty two other Khalsa, closely watched by the Guru, laid 
down their lives at the altar of faith and freedom. 237 

By the end of the day,' the Guru was le'ft with five disciples only, 
Day a Singh, Dharam SingTi, Man Singh, Sangat Singh and Sant Singh. 
The Guru was contemplating on destiny's debacle and fickleness of the 
fate. In the midst of his mortifying musing, over the past 38 years of his 
life, he was interrupted by his five surviving Sikhs. They suddenly 
gathered in a group, whispered something among themselves and 
enacted the scene of Anandpur in which Gobind Singh, five years earlier, 
had played the double role of being the Guru and disciple at the same 
time. They told Guru Gobind Singh that at the moment they were the 
Guru and he was a Khalsa. They ordered him to escape in the interest of 
the Panth. Day a Singh, the first of the five beloved ones, Dharam Singh 
the second beloved one, and another Sikh Man Singh would accompany 
him. The remaining two Sant Singh and Sangat Singh would stay behind 
to continue the fight. Sant Singh who had great resemblance with the 
Guru wore his clothes and sat in the place of the Guru. 238 Both of them 
remained behind to be captured by the enemy the next day, and Sant 
Singh was beheaded mistakenly for the Guru himself. Sangat Singh also 
died while fighting. 239 

The Guru and his three Sikhs dressed themselves as Mughal soldiers 
and managed to escape at about 2 o'clock in the morning one by one. It 
was decided that they would meet on the outskirts of Machhiwara, 27 
kilometres away. The Guru was the first to leave. He stopped for a while 
at Jhar Sahib 12 km away. Here twO Gujjars, Ramzu and Kalu, recognised 
the Guru. They raised an alarm. The Guru offered them a few gold coins 
in order to keep them quite. They did not. stop. The Guru silenced them 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

for ever with his sword. He arrived at Macchiwara first of all. On the 
outskirts of village Machhiwara, there was a garden. The Guru had 
reached there an hour before sunrise. He entered the garden and being 
completely exhausted lay in a corner among bushes, resting his head 
over a clod. At sunrise his three Sikhs found him lying fast asleep. A Sikh 
named Gulaba lived in that village. All the four took shelter in his house. 
But Wazir Khan, the determined enemy of the Guru, had issued orders 
to his generals that they should not take rest till the Guru was arrested. 
Consequently, parties of Mughal soldiers came to the jungles where the 
Guru was living in disguise. During this period, two Muslim friends of 
the Guru, Nabi Khan and Gani Khan, not only gave him protection, but 
also saved him from arrest. The Guru put on blue clothes, spread his hair 
loose on shoulders and assumed the appearance of a sufi saint. He was 
called the Pir of Uch. The Guru seated himself on a cot in accordance 
with the custom of the Pirs on a journey. It was carried by four men, two 
Sikhs and the two Pathans. One waved the Chauwar over the Guru's 
head and served as a reserve to give relief to others. 

In village Lai 240 a band of imperial troops intercepted them. The 
Guru addressed them in Persian. They insisted on verification. Qazi Pir 
Muhammad of Saloh village who had recognised the Guru certified that 
he was a Muslim saint. They reached Alamgir village, 50 kilometres 
away, near Gill railway station on Dhuri line, in safety. Ghani Khan and 
Nabi Khan left the Guru with Rae Kalha, a big Muslim zamindar, at 
Hehar village. He received the Guru warmly and kept him at Jatpura, 
near his headquarters to conceal his identity. At the Guru's request Rae 
Kalha sent a messenger to Sarhind, a distance of about 70 kilometres, to 
bring news about his family members. 

Fateh Nama 

The scout was expected to take at least a week in his mission. The 
Guru could not sit idle and he had to remain in hiding all the time. He 
was indeed a great literary man. He spent his time in expressing his 
feelings about Aurangzeb in a Persian poem. It is not available in full. At 
present it contains only twenty -three and a half couplets. Therein he 
speaks of the death of his two sons only. The following are the salient 
points of this letter: 

1. The same God who has given you the kingdom, has conferred 
upon me the riches of protecting religion. 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


2. You do not deserve the name of Aurangzeb, because an adorner 
of the throne does not practice fraud. 

3. I shall strike fire under the hoofs of your horses and I will not 
let you drink the water of Punjab. 

4. What does it matter if a jackal through deceit and deception 
killed two cubs of a lion. (The reference is to the two elder 
princes, Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh, martyred at Chamkaur). 

5. I have lost faith in your vows. I have no other work to do than 
to apply the sword. 

6. If ever I have an occasion to meet you, I shall show you the right 
and true path. 

7. Let the two armies stand in the field at a distance from each 

8. Let the distance be twelve kilometres between them (V2 verse-21). 

9. After this I shall come into the field of battle all alone and you 
will come with two horsemen. 

10. Come into the field yourself with a sword and a hatchet. Do not 
ruin the people of the creator. 241 

Two Younger Sons of the Guru executed (December 27, 1704 A.D.) 

The emissary returned in a few days. He said, Gangu, Mata Gujri, 
two princes, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, crossed river Sarsa when 
the flood was unabated. They came to Rupar and followed the road to 
Morindah where Garigu's village Saheri was situated. The news of 
Guru's battle had spread like wild fire in the neighbourhood. Gangu 
thought of his own safety first. He informed the government officials at 
Morindah about the persons in his charge. They were sent to Sarhind, 
headquarters of Wazir Khan. 

Gangu was let off with a Shabash. The other three were imprisoned 
in a tower of the fort called Thanda Burj or the cold tower. It was a 
summer resort for officers, but was most uncomfortable in the depth of 
winter for eighty-year old lady and two children aged eight and five. 
Wazir Khan was the bitterest foe of the Guru in particular and' of the 
Sikhs in general. He was biting his lips in rage for his failure to capture 
the Guru. He now resolved to exercise his power and authority on little 
children. 242 

On December 24, 1704, A.D., the children were produced before him 
in a public durbar in the presence of hundreds of fully armed and 


Banda. Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

ferocious looking soldiers to overawe the boys. They were told that the 
Guru, their elder brothers and all the Sikhs had been killed. They were 
offered security of life and comfortable living by embracing Islam. The 
children spurned the suggestion with utmost contempt and anger. Did 
our grandfather, Guru Tegh Bahadur, accept Islam? they asked. The 
Nawab's toady courtier, Suchanand Khatri, remarked that the young 
ones of snake were equally poisonous. On December 25, the children 
were again summoned in the court but all pressure tactics failed in 
securing the submission of the boys. Nawab Sher Muhammad Khan of 
Maler Kotla had fought against the Guru in the battles of Sarsa and 
Chamkaur. One of his brothers and a nephew had been killed while 
fighting. Though the Nawab was bitterly opposed to the Guru, the 
young age of the children, their fearlessness, and their moral courage of 
the highest degree, touched the tender cords of his heart. Wazir Khan 
asked Sher Muhammad to take charge of the boys and kill them. He 
declined to do so. To terrorise them further, they were bricked up 
shoulder high in the fort wall. The children stood firm in their resolution 
against apostasy. In anger they pushed down the temporary structure 
built in mud and bricks. Thereupon they were beheaded on December 
27, 1704, A.D., and their bodies were thrown away. A local bania named 
Todar Mai, a rich banker, 243 picked up the bodies and took them to the 
Guru's mother who collapsed at first sight and died. Todar Mai cremated 
the three bodies. The place their bodies were thrown is now marked by 
the gurudwara called Fatehgarh Sahib. On the site where the three 
bodies were cremated stands the Gurudwara Joti Sarup, 1.5 km 
south-east of Fatehgarh Sahib. 

As regards the wives of the Guru, Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib 
Deva, the messenger said that they had passed Sarhind in disguise of 
local jat women undetected on their way to Ambala. Later on the Guru 
learnt that they could not go to Nahan via Naraingarh as the numerous 
hilly streams crossing the ten kilometer long road were impassable and 
the road via Barara and Sadhaura was blocked by the chief of the latter 
place who had persecuted Budhu Shah for helping the Guru. They 
trudged on and reached Delhi. They lived in Matya Mahal, a thickly 
populated Muslim locality, and later on shifted to the area on the 
backside of the present Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital outside Delhi gate. 
A Gurudwara stands at this place called Gurudwara Mata Sundari Ji. 

A young and pretty girl named Anup Kaur, believed to be Mata Jito's 
younger sister 244 was captured by Sher Muhammad Khan, Nawab of 
Malerkotla, who desired to admit her in his harem. She was taken to 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Malerkotla where she committed suicide. Having learnt about the fate of 
his family, the Guru marched on into the waterless sandy track of 
Bhatinda and took up his abode at Dina. Here he is said to have written 
the famous Zafar Nama, or the Persian Epistle, to Aurangzeb. In this he 
blamed Aurangzeb for his irreligious acts and justified his own conduct, 
particularly the use of sword against him. It has one hundred and eleven 
couplets. The total number of verses in both the letters comes to one 
hundred thirty-four and half. 

The Zafar Nama 

The Zafar Nama falls into three clearly marked parts. The first part 
consisting of twelve couplets is an invocation to God to resolve his 
difficulties. The second part contains 76 verses, 13 to 88. In the beginning 
he condemns the Emperor for his failure as a ruler, for his bigotry, for his 
breach of faith and treachery against taking an oath on the Quran. In the 
third part the Guru praises Aurangzeb for certain qualities in his 

Aurangzeb had invited the Guru to his court at Aurangabad. The 
Guru said he would not wait upon such a faithless and false king. He 
told the Emperor that he had set up a revolutionary movement in 
Punjab. He justified this step by saying: "when the affair has passed 
beyond all remedies, it is lawful to have resort to the sword" (verse 22). 
Regarding the battle of Chamkaur, the Guru says: After all how could 
my men carry on the fight, when only forty of them were attacked by a 
countless horde? (verse 41). The Guru chided the Emperor for having 
acted against God and the Prophet: "You are faithless and irreligious. 
You believe neither in God nor in Mohammad" (verse 46). 

Aurangzeb had invited the Guru to his court by swearing on the 
Quran that no harm would be done to him. The Guru declared him a liar 
and treacherous: "Were you to take a hundred oaths on the Quran, I 
would not trust you in the least" (verse 49). Aurangzeb had written to 
Guru: "Come to see me, otherwise I shall be displeased and come to 
you." The Guru declined to go to him and invited him to come to Punjab 
assuring him of complete safety: "If you had kept the oath on the 
Quran — I would have come to you immediately" (verse 57). "Come to 
the village Kangar and after that we will meet" (verse 51). "There will 
not be even the slightest danger on the way for the whole tribe of Brars 
is under me" (verse 59). Come so that we may talk to each other, and I 
will treat you well, (verse 60) 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

The Guru warns Aurangzeb against shedding innocent blood: "Do 
not strike a sword unscrupulously on a person, for heaven's sword will 
also smite you" (verse 69). The Guru tells the Emperor that the death of 
all his four sons did not matter much for him: "What does it matter that 
four children are killed, as the coiled cobra (Khai'sa) is still alive?" (verse 
78). The Guru repeats his determination not to visit his court in the 

"I will not come to you nor travel on this road. I will not go to that 
place where you want me." (verse 88) 

The Guru realized that this condemnation would rouse the 
Emperor's wrath. In order to soften it he praised Aurangzeb for many 
good qualities: "Fortunate you are Aurangzeb, king of kings, skilful 
swordsman and rider. You are handsome and intelligent. You own a 
kingdom and riches. You are an expert in wielding the sword. You are as 
generous as you are a swordsman. You are intellectual and elegant, the 
bestower of land and wealth. Your generosity is great and in battle you 
are firm like a mountain. You possess the virtues of angels and 
splendour of the Pleiades or the seven stars" (verses 89-93). The Guru 
explains why the hill Rajas were opposed to him: "The idol-worshipping 
hillmen want to kill me because they are idol worshipper and I am an 
idol-breaker", (verse 95) 

In the end, the Guru tells Aurangzeb that God is his helper and the 
Emperor will not be able to harm him: "If you are proud of your army 
and riches, I gratefully rely on God" (verse 105). "When God is a friend, 
what can an army do, though he may multiply enmity a hundred times? 
If an enemy practises hostility a thousand times, he cannot injure even 
a hair of his head", (verses 110-111) 

This letter 245 was taken to Aurangzeb by Daya Singh and Dharam 
Singh, two of Guru's three companions from Chamkaur. They disguised 
themselves as Muslim travellers and delivered it to the Emperor at 
Ahmadnagar in the Deccan, where he had been residing since January 
20, 1706, A.D. Aurangzeb told the bearer of the letter to persuade their 
Guru to visit him. He provided them with an order for his officers to 
help them in their return-journey and the Guru on his way from Punjab 
to the Deccan. 

The Guru stayed at Dina for a few days and then decided to move 
into the Lakhi jungle. The Guru left Dina and took to travelling from 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


village to village. He spent a few days in Kangar village. Then he stayed 
in an upper storey room called Chaubarah in a carpenter's house at 
Dhaliwal village. Passing through the villages of Jatal, Bhagta, Banhiwal, 
Sarvan, etc., the Guru reached Kot Kapura situated on the borders of 
Lakhi jungle. On the way he had collected a considerable following of 
Barar Jats on payment to fight against the Nawab of Sarhind. There lived 
the founder of the village, Kapura. He had built a fort at the place. 
Kapura lived in the style of princes and possessed great wealth and 
power. Guruji asked him to lend his fort temporarily for shelter and also 
his troops to fight against Wazir Khan. But he was reluctant because he 
was scared of the Mughal authorities. So the Guru retired across the 
Lakhi jungle to Khidrana on the borders of a sandy desert. He was told 
that there was a pond of water which would supply water to his men. 
Except that, there was no water available anywhere else for miles 
around. The Guru lived there in a hut about a kilometer south-east of the 
village where now stands the Gurudwara Datan Sahib. One morning 
while he was brushing his teeth sitting on the ground, one Muslim in 
disguise of a Hindu Jat approached him from behind. The Guru turned 
back. The assailant who was a spy of Wazir Khan rushed upon the Guru 
with a naked dagger. The Guru was always in arms. He immediately 
struck him with his sword and cut off his head. His grave lies close to 
the Gurudwara. There the Guru celebrated the Baisakhi festival on 
March 29, 1705, A.D. 246 

The Battle of Khidrana (May 8, 1705, A.D.) 

The last battle of the Guru with the Mughals was fought at Khidrana 
in the modern Ferozpur district. The Chaudhri of Kot Kapura having 
refused him the use of his fort, the Guru proceeded to Khidrana and 
waited for the approaching enemy. In the meantime, the "forty" of the 
Sikhs who had renounced the Guru at Anandpur, were feeling repentant 
and proceeded to ask for the Guru's forgiveness. When near Khidrana 
they saw the Mughal army, they decided to wash off the blot and 
prepared to give them a battle. Bhago, leader of these Sikhs, called her 
men to attention. Their loose sheets or Giadars were spread on bushes to 
give an impression to the enemy that a large force lay encamped there. 
They sat scattered among bushes ready to fire. When the troops drew 
near, they suddenly raised a huge commotion and commenced fighting. 
The Guru also joined his Sikhs at a place now called Tibi Sahib. On the 
top of this hill the Guru took up his position and shot arrows on the 
enemy fast approaching towards him. It was a desert place where the 
battle was fought and the only pool of water was where the Guru 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

himself encamped. Hard pressed for want of water, after many of their 
numbers had been killed, the enemy retired yielding victory to the Guru. 
After that the Guru came out to the battlefield where the leader of this 
group of forty, Maha Singh, still had some life left in him. The Guru 
moved with utter love, wiped his face with his handkerchief and asked 
him his last desire. On being requested, the Guru sent for the deed of 
renunciation these Sikhs had signed, and tore it away. These forty Sikhs 
are known in the Sikh history as the Forty Muktas or "the forty saved 
ones", and the place where the battle was fought is now know as 
Muktsar. Mai Bhagoo followed the Guru to Nanded. She was considered 
a saint by the Sikhs. After the Guru's demise, she settled at Bidar, 190 km 
from Nanded. First she lived at Gurudwara Nanak Jhira, 1.5 km from 
Bidar town, and after some time she shifted to Jinwara, 10 km from 
Bidar. 247 

Though the Guru had defeated the Mughals at Khidrana, he did not 
feel secure enough to settle there. The Guru stayed at Khidrana up to 
October 1705, A.D. From Khidrana he moved to Bhatinda, 45 
kilometres east. From there he went still 45 kilometres further east and 
arrived at Talwandi Sabo, in the beginning of January 1706, A.D., where 
many Sikhs joined him. This village came to be known Damdama 
Sahib, as it gave breathing space to the Guru. The Guru spent nearly 10 
months here and resumed the work of religious propaganda. He also 
called some learned Sikhs and gave final shape to his literary works. It 
was at Talwandi Sabo that the Guru reproduced the whole sacred 
Granth from his memory and a hymn composed by his father was also 
added to it. Bhai Mani Singh Was a scholarly person like Bhai Gurdas. 
The Guru dictated Bani to Bhai Mani Singh. Four copies of the holy 
Granth were made at Damdama Sahib. One of them is at Akal Bunga, 
Amritsar, second at Patna, third at Anandpur, and the fourth at 
Damdama Sahib. 248 Thus the Adi Granth was finally edited there. The 
literary works of Guru Gobind Singh were lost in the river Sarsa near 
Rupar. Here at Damdama, the works of collecting his literary works 
was also started with the help of Bhai Mani Singh, Baba Deep Singh, 
Mata Sundari Ji, and some other Sikhs. It was because of these literary 
activities that Talwandi Sabo or Damdama earned the title of Guru hi 
Kashi or Guru's Banaras 249 

Aurangzeb invited the Guru to come to him. Inayatullah 250 says that 
Guru Gobind Singh had sought an interview with the Emperor. 
Aurangzeb deputed Shaikh Muhammad Yar Mansabdar and Muhammad 
Beg Guzzbardar to console "Gobind Rai Nanak Prastan", and bring him 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


to the court. The Prime Minister Munim Khan was instructed to provide 
him escorts on the borders of every province and pay him travelling 
expenses if demanded. 251 

The Guru started for the south from Damdama Sahib on October 21, 
1706, A.D. He sent his wives back to Delhi under the charge of Bhai Mani 
Singh. He passed through Hissar, Sarsa, Sadulpur, Churu, Sikar, Ringas 
and Phulera. At Naraina, a village five kilometres from Phulera, Jait Ram 
Mahant met the Guru. In the course of conversation the Guru asked the 
Mahant if he could secure help from Rajput princes to eliminate the 
Mughal government. He replied that it was almost impossible. The war 
between Rathors and Mughals was in full swing in Marwar and hence 
Ajit Singh could give no help. Jai Singh of Mewar had made peace with 
Aurangzeb. Mohkam Singh of Nagor was openly on the Emperor's side. 
Jai Singh, the young Raja of Jaipur, was in the Mughal camp and was 
fighting under Aurangzeb against the Marathas. He suggested that the 
Guru should use Madho Das Bairagi, a young fiery Rajput from Punjab 
hills, in his service. He was a brave fellow, thoroughly patriotic and 
sincere. He had been living in Maharashtra for long. He was fully aware 
of the Maratha methods for successfully opposing the Emperor. He was 
living on the banks of Godavari at Nanded. At Baghaur in Rajasthan, 
Daya Singh and Dharam Singh met the Guru. They had delivered the 
Guru's letter to Aurangzeb and had brought a message from him that he 
was anxious to see the Guru. Shortly afterwards, when he was still at 
Baghaur, the Guru learnt that Aurangzeb had died at Ahmadnagar on 
February 20, 1707, A.D. 252 

The Guru decided to turn towards Delhi to meet his wives who were 
living there. In Delhi, the Guru first stayed in a house lying at the back 
of Humayun's tomb. The site is now marked by the Gurudwara 
Damdama Sahib. As a token of love for Harijans of Delhi on account of 
Jaita's valorous deed, the Guru shifted to the colony of shoe-makers, 
called Mochi Bagh. The mochis served the Guru with great devotion. The 
Guru was so highly pleased with the residents of the colony that he 
changed its name to Moti Bagh, the abode of pearls. A gurudwara stands 
at this place. 253 

Bahadur Shah and Guru Gobind Singh 
(February 20, 1707 A.D —October 7, 1708 A.D.) 

Three sons had survived Aurangzeb, Muazzam, the living eldest, 
64-years, was the Viceroy of north-western provinces, including 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Afghanistan and Baluchistan. The 54-year old Azam, and 40-year old 
Kam Bakhsh were with the Emperor in the Deccan. Azam seized the 
imperial treasury, took command of Aurangzeb's army, and declared 
himself king on March 14, 1707, A.D. and rushed towards Delhi. 
Muazzam hurried from Kabul to Delhi. At Lahore he declared himself 
Emperor under the title of Bahadur Shah. He reached Delhi on May 20, 
where he spent three months of summer. Muazzam invited Guru Gobind 
Singh to join him, partly to avoid any Sikh rising when he was busy in 
a civil war, and partly to use the Sikhs in his cause. The Guru's 
contemporary sainapat says in Sri Guru Sobha that the Guru was 
approached for help by Muazzam's emissaries. Bhai Jodh Singh in 
Sri Kalgidhar Hulas says that Prince Muazzam deputed Nand Lai to 
prevail upon the Guru to join him with his Sikhs. After reading the 
Prince's letter, the Guru remarked that the Empire was his, but he should 
not be dishonest like his father. Nand Lai held out full assurance on 
behalf of the prince. 254 It meant that the Guru blessed the Prince. The 
Guru remained in Delhi and invited Sikhs to join him. Several hundred 
Sikhs gathered there. 255 They were sent under the command of Bhai 
Dharam Singh to support Muazzam against Azam. On June 8, 1707, 
A.D., a battle was fought at Jajau, near Agra. Azam, as well as his 
principal officers, were slain. Upon this his army fled from the field and 
victory remained with Bahadur Shah. The war of succession thus ended 
in favour of Bahadur Shah. He became the undisputed monarch of India, 
and returned to Agra. From there he dispatched Bhai Dharam Singh to 
inform the Guru of the victory. He also expressed a wish to see the Guru. 
The Guru accepted the invitation. Mata Sahib Deva pressed to accompany 
him and the Guru took leave of Mata Sundari who wished to stay at Delhi. 
After staying about a month at Delhi, the Guru started for Agra and 
visited Mathura and Brindaban on the way 256 He established his camp 
12 km from Agra and 6 km from Bahadur Shah's camp. Munim Khan 
Khan-e-Khanan, the Prime Minister, invited the Guru at his place. He 
was warmly received and well-entertained. The Guru shifted his camp to 
a nearby garden. The Guru held assemblies twice a day. Many people 
came to attend them from far and near. On July 23, 1707, A.D., the Guru 
and his Sikhs, all armed, left for the court. The Emperor permitted them 
to attend the court with arms on. The Guru was warmly received. He 
was presented with a rich robe of honour, a jewelled scarf (dhukhdukhi) 
worm Rs. 60,000, and five lakhs of rupees in cash. Another present of 
costly clothes, jewellery and ornaments to the value of one lakh of rupees 
was granted for Mata Sundari, and sent to Delhi. 257 The Emperor was 
deeply impressed by the Guru's personality. He requested him to spend 
some time with him and give him the benefit of his holy company. The 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Guru accepted the invitation. He remained in or near Agra till the 
beginning of November 1707, A.D. During this period he used to meet 
the Emperor now and then. The Emperor greatly enjoyed the Guru's 
company and very often had religious discussions with him. In that way 
he came to learn a good deal about Sikhism in addition to what he had 
learned from his secretary, Bhai Nand Lai. The Guru also acquainted the 
Emperor with particulars of the excesses committed against him, his 
family, his Sikhs and the Hindus of the Punjab. He pointed out that, as 
far as he and his people were concerned, the chief sinner was Wazir 
Khan, Viceroy of Sarhind. Bahadur Shah was greatly moved and 
promised that when he had got firmly established on the throne, he 
would punish the murderer of the innocent children. In the meantime, 
he offered the Guru a fagir and a large estate. 258 The Guru, however, 
declined the offer. He had never cherished even the faintest desire to 
found a kingdom or principality. He has no ambition that way. Even 
after decisive victories against the hill chiefs, he had never occupied 
even an inch of their territory. The acceptance of a Jagir now would have 
meant the abandonment of his cherished ideal of bringing about an era 
of liberty and equality, a spirit of all brotherliness in the land, the ideal 
for which he had worked so hard and sacrificed so much so far. From the 
creator of a nation and the liberator of the people, he would have been 
reduced to the position of a petty chieftain. So, while he declined the 
offer, he impressed upon the Emperor the need of reversing the religious 
policy of Aurangzeb and restraining his viceroys and Qazis from bigoted 
persecution of the Hindus and the Sikhs. The Emperor's response to this 
appeal was encouraging and the Guru was hopeful of success. That such 
was the trend of the talks between the two can be inferred from certain 
words occurring in the letter (hukamnama) dated October 2, 1707, A.D. 
addressed by the Guru to the Sangat of Dhaul. 

From the tenth Guru, 

To the Sangat of Dhaul. You are my Khalsa. The Guru shall protect 
you. Repeat Guru, Guru. With all happiness we have come to the 
Padshah. A dress of honour and a jewelled Dhukhdhuki worth 60000 was 
presented to us. With the Guru's grace the other things are also 
progressing. In a few days we are also coming. My instructions to the 
entire Khalsa Sangat are to remain united. When we arrive in Kahlur, the 
entire Khalsa should come to our presence fully armed. He who will 
come shall be happy. 259 

Sammat 1764. Katik 1st 
(October 2, 1707, A.D.) 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

In this letter, the Guru refers to "other things are also progressing". 
These other things could only be the friendly negotiations then going on 
between himself and the Emperor. Just then news arrived that 
disturbances had broken out in Rajasthan and that Bahadur Shah's 
youngest brother, Kam Bakhsh, was in revolt at Hyderabad in the 
Deccan. The Emperor left Agra for Rajasthan on October 28, 1707 A.D. 
taking the Guru with him. The Guru had two objects in view in 
accompanying the Emperor. One was to secure the royal order for 
punishment of Wazir Khan, and the second to meet Madho Das who was 
then living at Nanded. The real object of the Emperor was not to allow 
the Guru any occasion to revive his struggle against the Mughal 
government. Emperor even offered the Guru a daily allowance of 
Rs. 1000. 260 So the Guru thought that when the Emperor was so much 
inclined towards him he might succeed in getting at least Wazir Khan 

The friendly relations of the Emperor with the Guru was not liked by 
the Mughal courtiers. The entire Mughal court was anti-Hindu and anti- 
Sikh. The Guru was looked upon as a rebel punishable with death. Wazir 
Khan was a hero for them, fit to be rewarded rather than punished. His 
representatives were always in attendance at the court. They must have 
reported this matter to his master. The Guru's influence with the 
Emperor was looked down upon by one and all. Every courtier was alert 
to see that no harm came to Wazir Khan, while intrigues and 
machinations to harm the Guru were set afoot in right earnest. They 
reached Nanded on the bank of river Godavari in mid- August 1708, A.D. 
There the Guru halted as he was anxious to meet Madho Das Bairagi. 
The Emperor also encamped there as he did not want to leave the Guru 

Wazir Khan was very much upset on learning that the Emperor had 
conferred a costly dress of honour on the Guru at Agra. He understood that 
the excesses committed by him lay beyond the limits of pardon by the Guru. 
He was terribly afraid of the successful result of the Guru's negotiations. He 
knew that Jahangir had handed over Chandu Shah to Guru Hargobind. He 
was determined to avoid that fate. He won over by gifts and cash in the 
name of Islam all the big courtiers who were in the Emperor's confidence. 
They continuously impressed upon the Emperor not to yield to Guru's 
pleadings. To excite the religious bigotry of the nobles and troops against the 
Guru and to secure his assassination, Wazir Khan deputed a Sayyid with 
two Pathans to remain in Bahadur Shah's entourage. 261 The Guru and his 
Sikhs remained unaware of these machinations, and even if they knew, they 
did not care and bother about it. 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


All this time the Emperor went on making evasive replies to the 
Guru's suggestions about punishing the wrongdoers. At last, the Guru 
was convinced that there was no prospect of the Emperor's agreeing to 
any proposal for the redressal of the wrongs. The Guru expressed his 
deep disappointment at the Emperor's attitude. He told Bahadur Shah 
that he would not depend upon him any longer and would try his own 
resources to punish the tyrant. The Guru separated himself from the 
Imperial Camp and set up his own independent derah at a stone's throw, 
one km outside the city in a colony known as Afzalnagar and called by 
the Sikhs Abchalnagar. by purchasing a plot of land from Sayyid Sabir 
Shah Faqir who objected to Guru's camp on his land. 262 This took place 
towards the close of August 1708, A.D. Here the Guru met Madho Das 
and the Guru handed over the mission of punishing the wrongdoers in 
the Punjab to him, as we shall study in the following chapters. The Guru 
held a durbar- towards the middle of September 1708, A.D. It was 
attended by all the Sikhs and other leading men of the place. The Guru 
declared that he was investing Banda Singh Bahadur with authority to 
complete his work of national struggle in Punjab. John Clark Archer says 
that the conference discussed some disagreements with the Mughals and 
reached a decision to wage a war against them 263 

The Emperor was enraged with the Guru for deputing Banda Singh 
to Punjab to renew the struggle and kill Wazir Khan. He was also afraid 
that the Guru might join the Marathas in their struggle against the 
Mughals when the Emperor would be busy in warfare against his 
brother at Hyderabad. It was for this reason that though being in a hurry 
to reach Hyderabad as soon as possible to suppress the revolt of his 
brother Kam Baksh, he was staying at Nanded, and was not leaving the 
Guru alone. Bahadur Shah had the mistaken belief that the Guru's death 
would be a fatal blow to his scheme of renewing the revolution in Panjab 
by Banda. He, therefore, entered into. a conspiracy with the two Pathans 
deputed by Wazir Khan. Gul.Khan who was given the title of Jamshed 
Khan and his brother Ataullah Khan, were prevailed upon to put an end 
to the Guru's life as early as possible. 

The two Pathans regularly attended the daily sermons of the Guru 
and displayed keen interest in his teachings. They also won the 
confidence of other Sikhs. On September 20, 1708, A.D., in the evening, 
the Guru was taking rest in his tent. He was all alone in the tent, while 
a few Sikhs were loitering here and there. The Guru was half asleep with 
his back towards the door lying on his right side. Just at this moment the 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

two Pathans came to visit the Guru. Nobody, suspected any treachery. 
One of them, Jamshed Khan 264 by name, a huge and strong fellow 
quietly entered the tent of the Guru. He thrust his daggar (Jamdhar) into 
the left side of the Guru near the heart. The Guru seized the hand of the 
assailant, pulled the daggar out of his body and plunged it into the 
stomach of the Pathan killing him on the spot. The other Pathan was cut 
to pieces by the Sikhs. 265 A jarrah or surgeon from the imperial camp 
already known to the Guru was immediately summoned. He applied 
ointment and stitched the wound, the Guru began to recover under 
proper care. 266 The Emperor daily sent messengers to inquire after the 
Guru's health. The news that the Guru was speedily recovering 
dismayed him. 

The Emperor, now decided to adopt a cunning device frequently 
used by his father. He planned to contrive the death of the Guru in such 
a way that the Emperor's complicity should never come to the surface! 
He sent rich presents to the Guru as a token of his pleasure at the Guru's 
speedy convalescence. Knowing the Guru's weakness for bows and 
arrows, he included two strong and hard, beautifully bedecked bows. A 
clever emissary accompanied by Firoz Khan, the taluqdar of the place, 
was sent to deliver the gifts. His main duty was to see that the Guru 
himself tried the bows there and then. He was successful in inveigling 
the Guru to test the quality of the bows. The emissary enquired after 
Guru's health, praised his courage and condemned Gul Khan's treachery. 
Placing the gifts before the Guru he eulogized the bow as a piece of 
decoration and not for use as it was too hard for a normal human being 
to use it. It touched the Guru's heart. He said his Sikhs could wield it. 
A couple of them tried but failed. The Guru was incensed. He got up and 
bent the bow. In doing so the stitches of his wound gave way and blood 
flowed profusely. The wound was sewn again, but it putrefied. 267 The 
Guru knew that his end was approaching. When at last he felt that his 
last moment had arrived, he "opened the Granth Sahib and placing five 
paise and a coconut before it, solemnly bowed to it as his successor. Then 
uttering "Wahguru ji ka Khalsa! Wahguru ji ki Fateh!" he circumambulated 
the sacred volume and said: 'O beloved Khalsa, let him who desireth to 
behold me, behold the Granth. Obey the Granth Sahib. It is the visible 
body of the Guru. And let him who desireth to meet me diligently search 
its hymns." 268 About one and a half hours after midnight, he got up and 
carried on his usual recitation of the hymns, and then calling aloud his 
Sikhs, bade them farewell. The Guru departed from the world on 
Thursday, October 7, 1708, A.D. 269 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Dr. Hari Ram Gupta has given the following arguments to prove that 
Emperor Bahadur Shah was personally involved in the demise of Guru 
Gobind Singh. 

1. The Emperor halted at Nanded for seven weeks, as long as the 
Guru was there. He left the place and crossed river Godavari in four or 
five hours, after the Guru's last breath. 270 The Emperor was not in the 
Deccan on a picnic. For him every hour was critical. All the way from 
Ajmer to Nanded he had never stayed anywhere for more than a couple 
of days. His brother Kam Bakhsh had set himself up as Emperor at 
Hyderabad and was in open revolt against Bahadur Shah. At Nanded 
the Emperor was not making any military preparations. They had 
already been made. He delayed his departure from fear of the Guru. He 
was not prepared to leave him alone. The Guru had already sent Banda 
Singh Bahadur to Punjab to create disturbances there. He had openly 
defied the Emperor for his failure to punish Wazir Khan. The Emperor 
was afraid that the Guru might join the Marathas when he was involved 
in fighting with his brother. 

2. On October 28, 1708, A.D., the Emperor ordered that a dress of 
mourning be presented to the son of Jamshed Khan Afghan who had 
been killed by Guru Gobind Singh. The imperial newsletter of Bahadur 
Shah's court records: 

"Ken Guru Gobind Rae Jamshed Khan Afghan ra bajan 
Kushtah bud khilat-e-matami bapisar-e-Khan mazkur 
mrahuat shud." 271 

Jamshed Khan was not a mansabdar of the Mughal court or a high 
dignitary upon whom alone such high honours were bestowed by the 
Emperor. He was a spy of Wazir Khan in the disguise of a soldier in 
attendance upon the Sayyid who was also deputed by the Governor of 

3. It was two days later, on October 30, 1708, A.D., that the Emperor 
ordered for the grant of a robe of mourning to Guru Gobind Singh's 
family. The newsletter of the court states: 

"26 Shaban year 2 (October 30, 1708, A.D.) Hukam Shud Ke bapisar 
Gufu Gobind Rao Nanak PaAthi Khilat^matami pidar badehand." 272 

It means that the Emperor gave not only equality to Jamshed Khan 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

with Guru Gobind Singh in rank and status but also accorded him 
priority over the Guru. It should be noted that the Emperor did not offer 
the dress of mourning to Jamshed Khan's son during. Guru's life time. 
He did so after the Guru's death, three weeks later. 

4. "On 9 Ramzan year 2 (November 11, 1708, A.D.), it was 
represented that the deceased Guru Gobind Singh had left a lot of goods. 
What were the orders about its forfeiture?" 

"It was ordered that such chattels would not replete the imperial 
treasury. This was the property of a darvesh (saint). There should be no 
interference with it." 273 The Emperor's refusal to attach the Guru's 
property against the will of his courtiers show his diplomacy and 
cunningness. It was purely an eye wash of his complicity, a pious fraud. 

Thus the Mughals wiped out the Gurus entire family — father, 
mother, four sons and himself. They killed thousands of his dear, brave 
Sikhs. But still they lost the game and the Guru won it. In the words of 
Gokul Chand Narang: "Though he did not live to see his high aims 
accomplished, Guru Gobind Singh's labours were not lost. Though he 
did not actually break the shackles that bound his nation, he had set 
their souls free and filled their hearts with a lofty longing for freedom 
and national ascendancy. He had broken the charm of sanctity attached 
to the lord of Delhi and destroyed the awe and terror inspired by the 
Moslem tyranny. He had taken up sparrows and had taught them to 
hunt down imperial falcons." 274 He taught his Sikhs to regard 
themselves as the chosen of the Lord, destined to crush tyranny and 
oppression and look upon themselves as the future rulers of their land. 
He had, however, chosen one Banda Singh Bahadur to carry on his work 
as a temporal leader. 275 In the words of Daulat Rai, "using his blood and 
bones as manure, Guru Gobind Singh planted the tree of Indian 
nationalism which flourished and fructified in due course. Though his 
ideal was not accomplished in his life-time, yet his labours were not 
wasted .... And before his death Guru Gobind Singh was fully satisfied 
that he had done his work well and had fully carried out the mission 
with which he had been entrusted by the Lord." It is true that he did not 
actually uproot the Mughal empire or power, but he shook it violently to 
its very foundations and paved the way for its decline and fall. The clash 
developed in the time of Banda Singh Bahadur, Nawab Kapoor and Jassa 
Singh Ahluwalia and the Mughal power was ultimately destroyed and 
the Sikhs established themselves in the Panjab as a sovereign state. 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


Notes and References 

1. snt a", w ct , »rv ort uto nf 

2. Adi Granffi, Rag Tilang, pp. 722-23. 
HHt" K nfr# tfHK eft' H^t" 

ITU oft tTS" # <=<'yttd ipf^Jf 
Heft" HHT # II 

3. Gupta, Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs, The Sikh Gurus, 1469-1708, Vol. I, p. 15. 

4. The town sprang up again under the new name of Eminabad. 

5. Puratan Janam Sakhi, p. 35 quoted by Mcleod, Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion, 
p. 44. 

6. Most likely Babur came to know about the saintly character of Guru Nanak from 
Daulat Khan Lodi of Punjab, because Guru Nanak sometime worked at Sultanpur 
with Daulat Khan as a Modi in his store. One of the wives of Daulat Khan Lodi 
was the sister of Rai Bular. Rai Bular was very much impressed by the saintliness 
of Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak was known to Rai Bular from his childhood at 
Talwandi, the birth place of Guru Nanak. 

7. This account of the Guru's meeting with Babur is based on tradition widely 
current among the Sikhs. As Cunningham puts it, "The Sikh accounts represent 
Guru Nanak to have met the Emperor Babur, and to have greatly edified the 
adventurous sovereign by his demeanour and conversation, while he perplexed 
him by saying that both were kings and were about to found dynasties of ten." 
(footnote p. 40). 

8. Among the books which have described this meeting may be mentioned the 
following: Puratan Janam Sakhi, from Rama Nand to Ram Tirath (G.A Natesan, 
Madras), Macauliffe's Sikh Religion, Kahan Singh's Encyclopedia of Sikh Literature, 
Vir Singh's Guru Nanak Chamatkar, Ganda Singh's Inkishaf-i-Haqiqat, K.S. Duggal's 
Guru Nanak Dev, Kartar Singh's Guru Gobind Singh and the Mughals and 
G.S. Chhabra's Advanced History of the Punjab. 

Valuable first hand evidence would have been provided by Babur's Memoirs, but 
it has to be noted with regret that among the gaps which occur in the Memoirs, 
as recorded by himself, one is about the period from 1520 to 1526 A.D. If Babur 
had left a record of the events of this period, he would surely have mentioned his 
meeting with the Guru. 

9. Adi Granth, Rag Asa, p. 360. 

> H T V §H ?T ^Ft oTCB 1 " T7K offr HHW ^fe^F H 
HHt H 1 ^ UEt cjdtt'd # oft" ^? <7 >H 1 fH>tf T "ll 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

tt HCT3 1 " Hot? h 1 ^ h 1 " h?t an ?r until 

10. Adi Gnm//i, Rag Asa, p. 417. 

fm HUfe ITU^T H^ft Urfe HgUII 
R" fou oT^t" H?>Wf?>" HR=T W# ffell 

HfuTT U^fof", US" SRjfe" ?7 fHHfe" UHfoll 

rreu hW" ; ?Wut»r ?T3" Hufe J-rfjT it 
uT #wt ^fe" w^W" tj*r oft§" arfrrii 
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TO" HTO ^fe UE" frTSt Stf 3UJ STTFII 

fH 1 " S" fuvrfeitff uw ufe" di-^'fy u 

feor arfg- >>refu Mnjs fefsr fkfe ywfu ran 

fecTTT EU fefW Hfu gfu U^fu tftf II 

11. Adi Granth, Rag Asa, p. 418. 

fer fd^'dl >H^ ddct'il Ffe^TSl" 6o(d'e1 II 

fyc/tv OcTS" fHU yu w feor?r Hrnstii 
fa?^ w urat ?r »rfa>F fe?r fertf tfe f^d'<±l n 

12. Narang, G.C., Transformation of Sikhism, p. 25. 

13. Adi Granth, Rag Asa, p. 360. 

H# H*U UEt cjdtt'j f eft 77 Mrfenr II 

14. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs, p. 14. 

15. Mohan Singh, An Introduction to Punjabi Literature, pp. 58-59. 

16. Sher Singh, Philosophy of Sikhism, Lahore, 1944, p. 24, quoted by J.S. Grewal in 
Guru Nanak in History, p. 145. 

17. Narang, G.C., op. ext., p. 17. 

18. Banerjee, Indubhushan, Evolution of the Khalsa, pp. 1, 9. 

19. Mohan Singh, op. cit, pp. 65-66. 

20. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, op. cit., pp. 1-2. 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


21. Grewal, J.S., Guru Nanak in History, p. 145. 

22. Banerjee, Indubhushan, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 153-56. 

23. Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, Vol. II, pp. 19-20. Qanungo, Sher Shah, p. 226. 

24. Santokh Singh, Sura) Parkash, Vol. II, pp. 1349-53. 

25. Ibid., pp. 1349-53. Kahan Singh Bhai, Mahankosa, p. 834. 

26. Indubhushan Banerjee calls the story "very doubtful" perhaps because he does 
not get any reference from a contemporary Muslim chronicle. But Humayun had 
passed through the ferry at Goindwal, while crossing the Beas in 1540 A.D., as 
he was being pursued by the Afghan troops during his retreat to Lahore. Mention 
is made in almost all the books on Sikh history that Humayun sought the 
benedictions of the Guru in his adversity, (see pp. 120-21 of his book). 

27. Gupta, Hari Ram; History of the Sikhs, Vol. I, p. 115. 

28. Banerji, A.C., Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, p. 43. Also see, Harbans Singh, 
Guru Amar Das Ji, p. 53. 

29. Santokh Singh, Gurpratap Sura] Granth, Ras II, p. 10. Quoted in Hari Ram Gupta's 
History of the Sikhs, Vol. 1, p. 122. Also see Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, Vol. II, 
pp. 97-98. 

30. Chhabra, G.S., Advanced History of the Punjab, Vol. I, p. 548. 

31. According to the Bani of Guru Amar Das, "a woman was Sati, or true, if she died 
of the pains of separation rather of burning herself on the funeral pyre". The 
translation of the couplet reads as under. See Gopal Singh, (tr) Sri Guru Granth 
Sahib, Vol. Ill, p. 747. At another place, Guru Amardas says: 

Yea, A sati is one who lives contented and embellishes herself with good conduct. 
And serves her lord with all her heart and cherishes him ever. 

Adi Granth, p. 787. 

HHb>f <T ^JTO^Hfe H Hfo>>F Wfor HWfall 

?r^or HHfor fF^xfe - fir feutr %z H^firii 

32. See Adi Granth, p. 226. Also see Harbans Singh, Guru Amar Das Ji, pp. 56-57. 

33. Banerjee, Indubhushan, Evolution of the Khalsa, Vol. I, pp. 158-59. 

34. Kartar Singh, Sikh Itihas, pp. 160-61. 

35. Macauliffe, Sikh Religion, Vol. II, p. 103. 

36. Ibid., p. 103. 

37. Giani Gian Singh, Twarikh Gum Khalsa, p. 333., 

38. Bhalla, Sarup Das, Mahma Prakash, Kavita, p. 133. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

39. Giani Gian Singh, Twarikh Guru Khalsa, p. 333. 'When Gonda's son complaint to 
Jaffar Beg, he called Guru Amar Das to Lahore. The Guru did not go himself but 
he sent his Sikhs, Bhai Jagga, Bhai Kedari, Bhai Boola and Baba Budha to Lahore. 
They explained their standpoint and asked him to visit Goindwal to see things 
for himself to take a decision. This incident took place in 1569 A.D. 

40. Guru Pratap Suraj Prakash, p. 1507. 
He has given up vedic practices 
And founded his own sect. 

41. Bhalla, Sarup Dass, Mehma Prakash, p. 137. Jodh Singh, Life of Guru Amar Das, 
pp. 44-45. Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, p. 105. 

42. Bhalla, Sarup Dass, Ibid., p. 138. 
Listen to my words and understand 
Fear none when you go there 

Whatever questions are asked, answer properly. 

43. Adi Granth, Rag Gujri, p. 491 

fej H?> oFftt HfF Jldfcl fafkfe" Hfddld rjfar yyfe II 

>H^Hfr fen hot auftr ffl?T ufar fbu#" aftPH 1 " HVFfell 
6><h>cl HTddld fkfoM UofK ffe^JT S3" ^flW Hfe" >>TfS" II 

A" hit sr# Hf w t h# u<t hvtIfii 

44. Banerji, A.C.; Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, p. 105. 

45. Adi Granth; Gauri Ki Var, M. 4, p. 306. 

# ftier era- Hfd di j w oft h ft# >rfe wfe^n 

46. Bhalla, Sarup Das; Mahma Prakash, p. 289. 

47. Amritsar Gazetteer (1883-84), p. 61. George Forster, A Journey from Bengal to 
England, Vol. 1, p. 258 gives 1581 A.D. as the date of foundation of Amritsar. 
Sodhi Hazara Singh says that Guru Ka Chak was founded in 1573 A.D., p. 18. 
Quoted by Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 126. 

48. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. Ill, p. 1. 

49. Banerji, A.C., op. cit., p. 117. 

50. Narang Gokul Chand, op. cit., p. 31. 

51. Sarkar, J.N., History of Aurangzeb, Vol. I, p. 11. 

52. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. Ill, p. 20. 

53. Adi Granth, Rag Bilawal, p. 825. 

54. Sujan Rai Bhandari, Khulasat-ut-Tawarlkh, p. 425. Quoted by Gupta, Hari Ram, 
op. cit., p. 134. 

55. During Guru Hargobind's imprisonment and later at the time of Hargobind's 
conflict with the Mughals, the original manuscript of the Adi Granth was taken 
away by the Guru's grandson Dhir Mai. He kept it at Kartarpur, where he lived. 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


When Guru Hargobind settled at Kiratpur in the closing years of his life, Dhir 
Mai kept it with him there also. Some sikhs of Guru Tegh Bahadur seized it by 
force, but the Guru returned it to Dhir Mai. It is still available at Kartarpur. Its 
copies existed at Patna and Dhaka also. At the time of Guru Gobind Singh, thirty 
copies of the Adi Granth were available at different places. 

56. Mangal Singh, Baba Budha Sahib, p. 202. 

57. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 144. 

58. Ibid., p. 144. 

59. Macauliffe, Vol. Ill, pp. 86-87. Adi Granth, p. 825. 

HHUt 5F TF§ cftft ?7 UU# H75T# ufe VpH 1 " Tsnj^ll ^§"11 

srfe <W3" tnrfW fm wfz*w fy?r wfz ufe urfH»r & wn 

H^r fa d^d Pdd^d frrfe fefe" uhT" U 1 ?" II 

UH >te TJTT feg- ?T dfdOH sfS" 3lfe>>r" H3" W II 

erg ft'cSc< fen uw yf«d'dl frrfc i=r?r sr eft?? ^"ii 

60. Macauliffe, Vol. Ill, pp. 73-76. 

61. Latif, Syed Mohammad; History of the Panjab, p. 254. 

62. Mujeeb, M., The Indian Muslims, p. 243. 

63. Ibid., p. 244. 

64. Ibid., p. 247. 

65. Ibid., p. 247. 

66. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 146. 

67. Smith, V.A., Akbar, pp. 301, 3, 11, 16, 21, 23, Prasad, Beni, History of Jahangir, 
pp. 51, 61, 62. 

68. Gupta, Hari Ram; op. cit., p. 147. 

69. Syed Ahmud, Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri, p. 26. 

70. Mohsin, Fani, Dabistan-e-Mazahib, p. 234. Quoted by Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., 
p. 147. 

71. Prasad, Beni, History of jahangir, p. 130. 

72. Ahmud, Syud, Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri, p. 25. Quoted by Gupta, Hari Ram, p. 149. 

73. Jahangir, Tarikh-e-Salim Shahi, E and D, Vol. VI, p. 272. 

74. Macauliffe, Vol. Ill, pp. 90-91. 

75. Macauliffe, Vol. Ill, p. 91. 

76. Shaikh Farid Bukhari, head of the Orthodox ulama at the court, was given the 
title of Murtza Khan and was appointed Viceroy of the Punjab. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

77. Ahmud Syud, op. cit., p. 35. 

78. Trilochan Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur, p. 37. 

79. Khushwant Singh, History of the Sikhs, Vol. I, p. 63. 

80. Ganda Singh, The Sikh Review, January 1972, p. 11, Quoted by Gupta, Hari Ram, 
op. cit., Vol. I, p. 151. 

81. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 151. 
Whatever you ordain appears sweet. 
I supplicate for the gift of Name. 
~3W ¥ T ^ T Kte T OT, 

Ufa ?TK <S'Ao) H^ll 

82. Rose, Glossary of Punjab Tribes and Castes, I, p. 683. 

83. Satbir Singh, Sada IhTiss, Vol. I, p. 164. Latif, op. cit., p. 254, Hari Ram Gupta, op. 
cit., p. 152. 

84. Ahmud Syud, op. cit., p. 34. Mohsin Fani, The Dabistan, p. 234, quoted by Gupta, 
H.R. op. cit., p. 152. 

85. Adi Granth, Trumpp, Vol. LXXXII. 

86. Maktubat-e-Imam Rabbani, I, Part III, Letter No. 193. Quoted by Ganda Singh in 
Guru Nanak, pp. 94-95. 

87. Ibid. 

88. Macaullife, op. cit., Vol. Ill, p. 99. 

89. Payne, C.H., A Short History of Sikhs; pp. 31-32. 

90. Ibid. 

91. Macaullife, op. cit,, Vol. Ill, p. 2. 

92. Khazan Singh, History and Philosophy of Sikh Religion, Vol. I, p. 127. 

93. Macauliffe, Sikh Religion, Vol. IV, p. 2. 

94. Archer, The Sikhs, p. 174. 

95. Khazan Singh, History and Philosophy of Sikh Religion, Vol. I, p. 127. 

96. Ibid., p. 127. 

97. Indubhushan Banerjee, Evolution of Khalsa, Vol. II, p. 32. 

98. Gupta, Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs, Vol. I, p. 159. 

99. The Dabistan, p. 234. 

100. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 160. 

101. Macauliffe, op. cit., p. 19. 

102. See Syed Mohammad Latif, History of the Punjab, p. 255. 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


"During the Emperor's residence at Lahore, Hargobind was admitted to an 
audience. He presented a rosary of pearls to his majesty, who was highly pleased 
with its splendour, and asked the Guru whether he could procure more pearls of 
the same kind as were contained in the rosary. The Guru submitted to his majesty 
that the rosary consisted of a complete set of a hundred and eight pearls, but 
Chandu, his Diwan, had taken most of them and the ornament was, therefore, 
incomplete. The Emperor asked the Guru how the pearls could have fallen into 
the hands of the Diwan. Upon this the Guru burst into tears and narrated to the 
king the whole story. The king was greatly enranged at hearing of the treatment 
which Arjan had met with at the hands of the Diwan, and orders were issued for 
the person of Chandu Shah to be handed over to Hargobind to avenge himself 
on him in any manner he chose for his father's death." 

103. Ibid., pp. 256-58. Also see, Gupta, H.R., op. cit., 162. 

104. See, Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 163. 

"After his return from Kashmir, we find Hargobind playing the role of a friendly 
collaborator of Jahangir. Mohsin Fani says: "Hargobind never separated himself 
from the stirrup of victorious Jahangir." (The Dabistan, p. 234). It is surmised that 
the Guru was invested with some sort of supervisory powers by the Emperor 
over the Punjab affairs, and was given command of a Mughal contingent 
consisting of 700 horses, 1000 foot and seven guns (Bhai Parmanand, Tarikh-e- 
Panjab, pp. 300-01). In addition to this, Hargobind's personal contingent swelled 
considerably. Pathan mercenaries from the north-west under their leader Painda 
Khan joined the Guru's banner in large numbers. There seems to be no doubt that 
Jahangir would have conferred upon Hargobind a high mansabdari rank, which 
the Guru could not accept owing to his position as the religious leader of a great 

The Guru at the head of Mughal contingent as well as his own, moved about all 
over eastern Punjab. His duty was to suppress agitation or revolt in any part of 
this region. It was an honorary job. The Guru was not in regular service of the 
Mughal government. He accepted this job to raise the prestige of the Sikhs in the 
eyes of government officials and general public, to get his own men trained as 
military men, and to secure the person of Chandu Shah for punishment." 

105. See, Narang, G.C., op. cit., p. 62. Cunningham, History of the Sikhs, p. 52. 

Both Dr. Narang and Cunningham hold that Kaulan was simply a concubine of 
the Kazi. She originally was Hindu, as her name Kaulan (Lotus) signifies, and 
forcibly abducted by the Kazi, but later escaped to the Guru, the champion of the 
Hindu religion. Some consider her merely a maid servant of the Kazi. 

106. The Guru gave separate quarter to Kaulan and in order to perpetuate her 
memory, built a tank 'Kaulsar' which is up to this day known after her name. 

107. The date given by Hari Ram Gupta is April 14, 1634 A.D. 

108. Gumtala was situated where now the district court of Amritsar stands. 

109. Sarkar, Sir Jadu Nath; A Short History of AiCrangzeb, p. 156. 

110. Latif, Mohammad, op. cit., p. 256. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

111. Sarkar, J.N., op. cit., p. 156. 

112. Satbir Singh, Sada Itihas, p. 191. 

113. A person named Sadhu was married to the Guru's daughter, Viro. He was a great 
devotee of the Guru. Sadhu said: "The slave Sadhu hath seen the Guru washed 
his feet and drunk the nectrous water therefrom." [Macauliffe, IV, p. 94]. Perhaps 
this Sadhu was different from Sadh. Macauliffe, IV, 147-50 refers to another Sadh 
or Sadhu. 

114. Mohsin Fani, Dabistan-e-Mazahib, quoted by Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 168. 

115. Chhabra, G.S., op. cit., p. 218. In this book Dr. G.S. Chhabra gives the name of two 
Masands, Bakht Mai and Tara Chand, instead of Sadh or Sadah. K.S. Narang also 
gives the same names of the masands from Kabul. 

116. Mohsin Fani, op. cit., quoted by Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., pp. 168-69. 

117. Ibid. 

118. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. IV, p. 178. 

119. Macauliffe, op. cit.. Vol. IV, p. 52. 

120. Latif, Syed Mohammad, op. cit., p. 256. 

121. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 169. 

122. Macauliffe, Vol. IV, p. 187. 

123. Mohsin Fani, op. cit., p. 239. Quoted by Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 169. 

124. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 169. 

125. McGregor, History of Sikhs, Vol. 1, p. 59. 

126. Mohsin Fani, op. cit., p. 235, Quoted by Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 169. 

127. Macauliffe, Vol. IV, p. 214. 

128. Ibid., Vol. IV, p. 209. 

129. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 170. 

130. Fauja Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur, p. 15. 

131. The Dabistan, op. cit., p. 235, quoted by H.R. Gupta, op. cit., p. 169. 

132. Macauliffe, op. cit., Voi. Ill, p. 203. 

133. Adi Granth, p. 466. 

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Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


134. Gupta Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 180. 

135. Macauliffe, Vol. IV, p. 310. 

136. Aurangzeb had not taken a serious view of Guru Har Rai's military assistance of 
Dara. Aurangzeb, therefore, ignored the political aspect and concentrated on the 
religious aspect. Instead of asking Ram Rae why his father had joined Dara, the 
Emperor demanded an explanation why the Musalman had been abused by Guru 
Nanak in a particular hymn. The stern nature of the Emperor, the awful 
atmosphere of the court and his own loneliness, frightened Ram Rae, a lad of 14. 
Out of fear he substituted the word 'Beiman' in place of Musalman. Aurangzeb 
detained Ram Rae as a hostage at the court for Guru Har Rai's good behaviour. 
It also seems probable that the Emperor wished to have the Guru as a supporter 
of the Mughal Empire. Even after disowning Ram Rae by the Guru, Aurangzeb 
might have thought that the Guru would change his decision under imperial 
pressure. Ram Rae as the Guru would prove a pliant tool of imperial policy if he 
got the Guruship through official support. Aurangzeb knew the depth of Guru's 
influence on Jat peasantry of Majha and Malwa when he was the Governor of 
Sind and Multan from 1648 to 1652 A.D. 

According to Hari Ram Gupta, it appears that Aurangzeb's hard pressure on 
Guru Har Rai to change his verdict in favour of Ram Rae for which he was not 
prepared under any circumstances brought about Guru Har Rai's untimely death 
at the young age of 32. 

137. Trilochan Singh, op. cit., p. 112. 

138. Macauliffe; Sikh Religion, Vol. IV, p. 315. 

139. Muraqat-e-Abid-Hasan, p. 202, cited and translated by Sri Ram Sharma, in The 
Religious Polio/ of the Mughal Emperors, p. 130. 

140. Jadu Nath Sarkar; A Short History of Aurangzeb, p. 152. 

141. Ibid., p. 150. 

142. Ibid., p. 150. 

143. Irfan Habib; The Agrarian System of Mughal India, p. 322. 

144. Elliot and Dowson, VII, pp. 183-84. 

145. Sarkar, J.N., op. cit, p. 152. 

146. Ibid., pp. 147-48. 

147. History of Pan jab, p. 176. 

148. Sarkar, J.N., op. cit. 

149. Syed Muhammad Latif, History of Punjab, p. 176. 

150. Sarkar, J.N., op. cit., p. 158. 

The officially avowed policy in imposing the Jazia was to increase the number of 
Muslims by putting pressure on the Hindus. As the contemporary observer 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Manucci noticed: "Many Hindus who were unable to pay turned Mohammadan 
to obtain relief from the collectors — Aurangzeb rejoices." 

Khafi Khan says: "With the object of cutting the infidels and of distinguishing the 
land of the faithful from an infidel, the Jizia or poll-tax was imposed on the 
Hindus throughout all the provinces." 

151. Latif, S.M., op. ext., p. 176. 

152. Khafi Khan, II, 51-52; Quoted by J.N. Sarkar, op. cit., Vol. Ill, p. 354. 

153. Banerjee, Indubhushan, op. cit., pp. 59-66. 

154. G.C. Narang, Transformation of Sikhism, p. 115. 

155. Banerjee, op. cit., pp. 57-58. 

156. Macauliffe, IV, p. 369. 

157. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 209. Macauliffe, gives the name Sher Afghan Khan, 
the Viceroy in Kashmir, p. 369. 

158. William Irvine, Later Mughals, Vol. I, p. 79. 

159. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 211. 

160. Muhammad Ahsan Ijad; Fragment of the Farrukh Siyar Noma in Irvine's Later 
Mughals, Vol. I, p. 79. 

161. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 211. 

162. Ibid., p. 211. 

The entry in Bhat Vahi Multani Sindhi reads as follows: "Guru Tegh Bahadur, the 
9th Guru was taken into custody by Nur Muhammad Khan Mirza of Rupar police 
post on 12 July 1675 A.D. at Malakpur Rangharan, Pargana Ghanaula, and sent 
to Sarhind, along with Diwan Mati Das and Sati Das, sons of Hira Mai Chhibbar, 
and Dyal Das son of Moti Das. They remained in jail at Basi Pathanan for four 
months. The brutes committed great atrocities on the Guru. The Guru calmly 
submitted." Harbans Singh, The Sikli Review, January 1982, pp. 41-43. 

163. Sarkar, J.N., A short History of Aurangzeb, p. 137. 

He agrees that the situation on the frontier had eased to enable the Emperor to 
return to Delhi in the beginning of winter of 1675 A.D. He writes: "By the end 
of the year 1675 A.D. the situation had sufficiently improved to enable the 
Emperor to leave Hasan Abdal and return to Delhi." 

164. Syed Muhammad Latif, History of Punjab, p. 260. 

165. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 215. 

Give up your head, but forsake not those whom you have undertaken to protect. 
Says Tegh Bahadur, sacrifice your life, but relinquish not your faith. 

166. Adi Granth, p. 1428. 

"Ram passed away, Ravan passed away with his large family; Saith Nanak, 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


nothing is permanent; the world is like a dream." 

167. Latif; op. cit., p. 260- 

168. Satbir Singh, The Sikh Review, January, 1975 A.D., p. 54. 

"We have it on the authority of Ghulam Husain's Siyar-ul-Mutakhirin that 
Aurangzeb himself ordered that Guru Tegh Bahadur be killed and parts of his 
body amputated and hung about the city." 

169. Fauja Singh, op. cit., p. 103. 

He quoted Bhat Vahi which says: "Jaita, son of Agya Ram, Nanu, son of Bagha, 
Uda, son of Khema, grandson of Parma, brought Guru's head to Kiratpur in 
Parganah Kahlur on the tenth moonlit day on Mangsar, 1732. It was cremated at 
Makhowal on the eleventh. 

170. Harbans Singh, The Sikh Review, January, 1982, pp. 44-45, 55-56. Kartar Singh, Life 
of Guru Gobind Singh, p. 37. 

171. Kartar Singh, Ibid., p. 37. He quoted the Bhat Vahi Jadavansian which says: ^ 

Lakhi, son of Godhu, Nagahia, Hema and Hari, sons of Lakhi, Naik Dhuma, son 
of Kahna, Tumar Bijlant picked up the body of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Guru, 
and cremated it in Raesina village 12 minutes before dawn (Because cremation at 
night was prohibited). 

172. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 217. 

Two shrines serve as memorial of Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom. One stands 
at the best place in old Delhi near the Red Fort and the other at the most notable 
place in New Delhi, facing Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Parliament House and the 
Central Secretariat. 

173. Narang, G.C., op. cit., pp. 70-71. 

174. Saqi Must-id-Khan, Masir-e-Alamgiri, translated Sir J.N. Sarkar, op. cit., p. 94. 

175. Latif, op. cit., p. 260. 

176. Macauliffe, op. cit., IV, p. 392. 
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177. Gordon, op. cit., p. 35. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

178. Narang, G.C, op. cit., p. 74. 

179. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 225. 

180. Parkash Singh, Spokesman Weekly, New Delhi, 1970, p. 41. 

181. Narang; op. cit., pp. 74-75. 

182. Narang, op. cit., p. 74. 

183. Cunningham, op. cit., p. 75. 

184. Banerjee, Indubhushan, op. cit., p. 67. 

185. Akhbarat-e-Durbar-e-Mnalla, I, 1677-79, quoted by Teja Singh, Ganda Singh in A 
Short History of the Sikhs, I, p. 65. 

186. Macauliffe, Vol. V, pp. 4-5. 

187. Ibid., p. 4. 

188. ' Amar Singh Sher-e-Punjab, Life of Guru Gobind Singh, p. 30. Kartar Singh 

Kalaswalia, op. cit., pp. 70-71. 

189. Hutchisru and Vogel, History of the Punjab Hill States, Vol. II, quoted by Kartar 
Singh Kalaswalia, op. cit., pp. 88-90. 

190. Ibid., p. 503. 

191. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of Sikhs, p. 63. 

192. Macauliffe, Vol. V, p. 29. 

193. Sadhaura is situated at the foothills, 16 kilometres south of Paunta and 42 km east 
of Ambala. 

194. Kartar Singh Kalaswalia, op. cit., p. 104. 

195. Kahan Singh, Mahan Kosha, Sukha Singh, Gur Bilas, Kartar Singh, Life of Guru 
Gobind Singh, p. 77. Kartar Singh, Guru Gobind Singh and the Mughals, pp. 53-54. 

196. Cunningham, History of the Sikhs, p. 77. 

197. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 235. 

198. Bichitra Natak, Section VIII, Chaupai 3. Quoted by Gupta, H.R., op. cit., p. 235. 

199. Kalaswalia calls him Lai Chand, op. cit., pp. 118-19. 

200. Also see Bichitra Natak, section IX, Chaupais 1-24, Sainapat, Sri Guru Sobha. 

201. Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, Vol. V, p. 54. Gian Singh, Twarikh Guru Khalsa, 
pp. 459-60. 

202. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. V, p. 55. Narang, G.C, op. cit., p. 90. Consider Dilawar 
Khan, Governor of Kangra. Panth Prakash, -.Vol. XXXIV, p. 8. Consider Dilawar 
Khan Governor of Kashmir. Santokh Singh, Suraj Prakash. Consider Dilawar 
Khan, Subedar of Lahore. 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


203. Kalaswalia, op. ext., p. 137. 

204. Bichitra Natak, Section X, Chaupais 1-10. Kalaswalia, op. ext., p. 137. Sainapat, 
Sri Gxirxi Sobha, p. 17. 

205. Bichitra Natak, Section XI, Chaupais, 1-69. Kalaswalia, op. cit., pp. 134-41. 
Sainapat, Sri Gur Sobha, p. 18. 

206. Akhbarat-e-Darbar-e-Mxialla, I, 1677, 1699, quoted by Teja Singh and Ganda Singh 
in Short History of the Sikhs, I, p. 65, fn. 2. 

207. Sharma, Sri Ram, The Religioxis Policy of the Mughal Emperors, p. 146. 

208. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 242. 

209- Bichitra Natak, Section XII, Chaupais 1-12. 

210. Irvine, Later Mughals, Vol. I, p. 4. 

211. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 243. 

212. Kalgidhar Chamatkar, p. 173. Kalaswalia, pp. 130-45, as quoted by Gupta, Hari 
Ram, op. cit., p. 244. 

213. Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, Vol. V, pp. 124-26. 

214. Sainapat, Sri Gurxi Sobha, p. 49. 

Bhej diyo likh kai on ne, 
Ab chhoro Guruji Bhum hamari 
Kai kachhu dam daya kar dev, 
Kai yudh karo. 

215. Kartar Singh, The Life of Gxirxi Gobind Singh, p. 179. 

216. Sukha Singh, Gur Bilas, p. 13. See Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., the siege lasted for 
two months, p. 284. 

217. Saxi Sakhi, pp. 20-21, 27. Sxiraj Prakash, pp. 5335-36. 

218. Macauliffe, Vol. V, pp. 153-156. 

219. Ibid., pp. 156, 162-64. 

220. Narain Singh, Gxirxi Gobind Singh, Retold, p. 229. 

221. Macauliffe, op. cit., p. 165. 

222. Ibid. 

223. Muhammad Akbar, The Punjab under the Mxighals, p. 219. 

224. Ganda Singh, Hxikanxname, Guru's Hxikatn Namah, No. 60, p. 181. 

225. Akhbarat-e-Dxirbar-e-Mualla, dated May 13, 1710, quoted by Ganda Singh in his 
Makhiz-e-Twarikh-e-Sikhan, I, p. 83. Also see Sainapat, 1925, pp. 58-64. 

226. See Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 289. Also see Santokh Singh, Sxiraj Prakash, 
pp. 5817-18. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereign ty 

227. Santokh Singh/ Suraj Prakash, pp. 5819-22. 

228. Ibid. 

229. Ibid., pp. 5834-38. 

230. Ibid., pp. 5838-41. 

231. Latif, op. cit., pp. 265-68. 

232. Sainapat, op. cit., pp. 65-74. 

233. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 293. 

234. Zafar Nama, lines 19-41. 

235. Ganda Singh, Makhiz-e-Twarikh-e-Sikhan, pp. 1-8. Quoted by Gupta, Hari Ram, 
op. cit., p. 294. 

236. Zafar Nama, lines 19-40. 

237. Bhagat Lakshman Singh, Sikh Martyrs, p. 67. 

238. Ibid. 

239. Chhabra, G.S., Advanced History of the Punjab, p. 303. 

240. Kalgidhar Chamatkar, p. 670, Quoted by Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 297. 

241. Ganda Singh, Makhiz-e-Twarikh-e-Sikhan, pp. 61-63. Quoted by Gupta, Hari Ram, 
op., cit., p. 298. 

242. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 298. 

243. Sainapat, pp. 75-76. 

244. Gupta, H.R., op. cit., p. 299. 

245. The Fateh Nama and Zafar Nama. are two independent letters. In Fateh Nama the 
Guru mentions the martyrdom of his two elder sons, Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh. 
The Zafar Nama refers to the execution of his two younger sons also, Zorawar 
Singh and Fateh Singh. 

The mode of meeting Aurangzeb in both the letters is different. In Fateh Nama the 
Guru wishes to meet the Emperor in the battlefield. The Zafar Nama seeks 
negotiations with the Emperor in Malwa. Fateh Nama is a letter from a military 
leader and Zafar Nama from a religious precept. The Zafar Nama tells us in 
unmistakable terms that one should not lose courage even when faced against 
heavy odds, that peace is desirable but not without honour, that in negotiations 
compromise is essential but not on the terms of the dictator, give and take being 
the basic feature of a compromise. 

246. Gupta, H.R., op. cit., p. 306. 

247. Sagoo, Harbans Kaur, Mai Bhagoo, See Gill, M.K., Guru Mahal te Hore Bibian (ed.) 
pp. 145-173. 

248. Gian Singh, Panth Prakash, pp. 301-04. 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors 


249. Sagoo, H.K., Baba Deep Singh Shaheed, See Gill, M.K. Shahidi Prampra te Sikh Itihas 
(ed.) pp. 119-40. 

250. Ganda Singh, Makhiz-e-Twarikh-e-Sikhan, pp. 74-75. Quoted by Gupta, H.R., op. 
cit., p. 312. 

251. Ahkam-e-Alamgiri, pp. 7-9, quoted by Gupta, H.R. p. 312. 

252. Gupta, H.R., op. cit., p. 312. 

253. It lies on the Ring Road now called Mahatma Gandhi Road. 

254. Jodh Singh, Shri Kalgidhar Hulas, pp. 20-25. 

255. Ibid., pp. 205-6. 

256. Sainapat, Sri Guru Sobha, p. 119. 

257. Ibid., p. 122. 

258. Daulat Rai, Biography of Guru Gobind Singh (Urdu) Quoted by Kartar Singh in 
Guru Gobind Singh and the Mughals, p. 108. 

259. Translation by Ganda Singh. Quoted by Gupta, H.R., pp. 312-15. 

260. Sainapat, Sri Guru Sobha, p. 121. Gian Singh, Panth Prakash, p. 313. 

261. Macauliffe, Vol. V, p. 235. 

262. Khushwaqt Rae, Twarikh-e-Sikhan, 1812, folio, 36a. Daulat Rae, Life of Guru Gobind 
Singh, p. 231. Bhai Jodh Singh, Sri Kalgidhar Hulas, pp. 256-58. Quoted by Gupta, 
H.R., op. cit., p. 320. 

263. Archer, The Sikhs, p. 208. 

264. Archer, J.C, Ibid., p. 208. Archer and many others call him Gul Khan, a grandson 
of Painda Khan killed in a battle by Guru Hargobind. He is the same person as 
Jamshed Khan, a spy of Wazir Khan and later on of Emperor Bahadur Shah as 
well. Also see, Jodh Singh, Sri Kalgidhar Hulas, p. 270. 

265. Khafi Khan, Muntakhab-ul-lubab, Vol. II, p. 551. 

He says that the assailant of the Guru was not discovered. On the other hand, the 
Guru was held responsible for the murder of Pathan Jamshed Khan whose son 
was granted a Khilat and compensated for the loss of his father. 

266. Mirza Muhammad Harisi, Ibrat Nama, p. 67. 

Sayyid Muhammad Qasim Husaini, p. 36 state that Gobind Singh was 
assassinated during the expedition by a Pathan soldier and he died of his 
wounds in 1708, at the town of Nanded without leaving any male issue. 

George Forster, A Journey from Bengal to England, p. 263. Nanak Chand Naz, 
Bichitra Natak, p. 200. 

267. Daulat Rae, Life of Guru Gobind Singh, pp. 232-35. Hakim Ram Kishan, Janam Sakhi 
Guru Gobind Singh, pp. 198-201. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

268. Macauliffe, Vol. V, p. 244. 

269. Kartar Singh, op. cit., p. 126. 

270. William Irvine, Later Mughals, Vol. I, p. 59. 

271. Akhbarat-e-Durbar-e-Miialla, quoted by Ganda Singh, Makhiz-e-Twarikh-e-Sikhan, 
Vol. I, p. 83. 

272. Ibid. 

273. Irvine, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 90. 

274. Narang, G.C., Transformation of Sikhism, p. 98. 

275. Ibid., Kartar Singh, op. cit., p. 127. 

Parganas affected by Sikh uprisings. 


Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 

The first empire-builder for the Sikhs and a great national hero for the 
Hindus, a scourge for the tyrants but a man of compassion and 
generosity for them who supported his political cause — not his 
religion — was Banda Singh Bahadur. His name in childhood was 
Lachhman Dev. Max Arthur Macauliffe, 1 William Irvine, 2 Khushwant 
Singh, 3 Ganda Singh, 4 Gian Singh, 5 Karam Singh, 6 Veni Prasad, 7 
Gianeswar Khurana, 8 Gopal Singh, 9 G.C. Narang, 10 Sohan Singh Seetal, 11 
Satbir Singh, 12 G.S. Chhabra 13 hold the view that Lachhman Dev was 
born on October 27, 1670, at Rajauri in district Poonch of western 
Kashmir. This view is acceptable to most of the authorities on the history 
of medieval India. 14 Guru Gobind Singh was four years old when 
Lachhman Dev was born. Banda Singh Bahadur was a great historical 
personality of the eighteenth century who rose to greatness by dint of his 
own hard work. His father, Ram Dev, was an ordinary ploughman, 
Rajput of the Bharadwaj clan. 15 Born in poor circumstances, nothing is 
known of his early life except that the child, true to the traditions of his 
race, developed into a youth of very active habits, full of energy and 
fond of shooting and hunting. 16 He was quick to learn the art of riding, 
wrestling, archery, and swordsmanship. 

As he came from a poor family and lived in a remote village, 
traditional schooling did not fall to the lot of Lachhman Dev or Banda 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


Singh Bahadur, because during those days India, more particularly 
Kashmir, was very backward educationally. There was no school in the 
area where Banda Singh Bahadur took his birth. 17 Whatever education 
was imparted during those days was through the Brahmins. Even in the 
twentieth century, there are hardly any learned person of outstanding 
merit in Kashmir except the Pundits. So, it seems, in the early days of his 
life, Lachhman Dev had no opportunity for regular schooling and he 
started assisting his father in farming. In his spare time he used to go to 
the jungles with a bow and arrows for hunting. In due course, he 
developed this hobby and acquired such a good taste for it that he 
turned a good hunter and marksman. It was about this time when Guru 
Tegh Bahadur laid down his life in 1675 A.D. when Lachhman Dev was 
only five years of age. It is possible that the child had heard of the Guru's 
martyrdom for the protection of the religion and honour of the Kashmiri 
Pundits. It can be inferred safely that the Guru's martyrdom was freely 
talked about by the people of Kashmir in general, and Kashmiri Pundits 
in particular. 

Lachhman Dev was very sensitive. It would be appropriate to quote 
one event of his life here which revolutionized his life. Once he went for 
hunting when he was just fifteen years old. It is said that he shot at a doe 
on the bank of the Tavi river. The pitiable looks of the dying doe struck 
the tender chords of his heart. But added to this was another and more 
touching scene. As he cut open its stomach, he saw its two young ones 
falling from the womb and writhing to death before his very eyes in a 
few minutes after their premature birth. Something latent moved him 
still more from within. After this event, he started leading a disappointed 
and disillusioned life. He had no interest left in worldly affairs. He gave 
up hunting, eating meat, and resolved to lead an ascetic's life. 
Meanwhile he came into contact with a Vaishnava Bairagi named Janaki 
Prasad under whose spell he renounced his home and worldly 
attachments to become an ascetic himself. Janaki Prasad, according to the 
custom of the Bairagis, gave him the new name of Madho Dass. 18 Madho 
Dass visited various places with his Guru Janaki Prasad and eventually 
came to the shrine of Baba Ram Thaman, near Kasur (Lahore) at the time 
of the Baisakhi fair in 1686. Here, there were various other groups of 
Sadhus. Madho Dass joined the group led by Bairagi Ram Dass and 
became his disciple. After Baisakhi, this group moved from there, visiting 
various religious places. It came to Panch Bati near Nasik. The solitude 
and calmness of that place acted as a source of attraction to Madho Dass. 
So he decided to stay there. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

It was at Nasik that he formed the acquaintance of an old Yogi, 
Aughar Nath, famous for his attainments in Tantric science. 19 Madho 
Dass started serving him day and night, taking him as a real Guru. 
Impressed by his spirit of service and dedication, Aughar Nath started 
teaching him Yogic and occult sciences. He showered all the qualities of 
Yog and Jantar on his disciple. Aughar Nath was so greatly impressed by 
the service of Madho Dass that towards the end of his life he presented 
his valuable Yogic Granth called the Sidh Anunia, compiled by a disciple 
of Guru Gorakh Nath, 20 to Madho Dass, and then breathed his last in 
1691 A.D. 

Being thus accomplished, Madho Dass left the Panch Bati woods to 
establish a monastery of his own elsewhere. In search of a suitable place 
for it, he moved towards the east of the river Godavari. A calm and quiet 
place near Nanded 21 appealed to him the most. So he decided to stay 
there and made q { small hut on the bank of the Godavari 22 He took an 
austere life and Tantric practices, by dint of which he soon became widely 
popular and greatly respected in the neighbourhood. In a short time a 
large following of disciples gathered round him and the small hermitage 
of Madho Dass grew into a regular monastery. He was yet too 
inexperiences! for the life of a saint. Superiority complex overshadowed 
his virtues. The sadhus from far and wide came there and stayed in his 
dera for some time while on their way to places of pilgrimage. In the 
centre of his dera, he had kept a beautiful and luxurious couch (palang). 
Whenever any sadhu went there and sat on it, Madho Dass summoned 
his birs (demoniacal champions) and ordered them to overturn the 
couch, thus throwing the occupant on the ground. This type of insult of 
sadhus pleased Madho Dass and in due course it became his hobby. 

He was undoubtedly a mine of energy and enthusiasm, but these 
were directed in wrong channels, writes Dr. Ganda Singh. "The ore was 
there in an inexhaustible abundance but was waiting for a refining 
chemist to separate the dross from the pure metal and to cleanse and 
polish it with his chemical solutions. It was in this state of suspense that 
Madho Dass spent some sixteen summers of his life at Nanded. At last 
the warrior-saint Guru Gobind Singh appeared on the scene in the 
autumn of 1708 A.D. to reclaim the misdirected energies of the ascetic 
and make them flow in the channels of the Khalsa brotherhood, 
strenuously working for the emancipation of humanity, suffering under 
the iniquities and oppressions of the age." 23 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


In 1708 A.D., Guru Gobind Singh, who was then accompanying 
Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah in his Deccan campaigns, stopped at 
Nanded for some time. One day, he went to the monastery of Bairagi 
Madho Dass. He had been told a lot of things about the wonder-working 
powers of Madho Dass by saint Jait Ram of Dadu Duara (Rajasthan in 
Jaipur State). Jait Ram had himself been ridiculed by Madho Dass. But he 
was very much impressed by his bravery and told Guru Gobind Singh 
about him and advised the Guru to meet him. On his arrival at Nanded, 
Guru Gobind Singh went to his hermitage. Madho Dass was not then 
present there. The Guru ordered his disciples to kill a few goats of the 
Bairagi and cook meat there and then. 24 In the opinion of Khazan Singh, 
the Guru did so with a view to exciting Madho Dass 25 because he was 
then a vegetarian and it was an act of sacrilege to kill an animal at the 
Bairagi's dera. The Guru took the seat on the couch that Madho Dass had 
used to discomfort and confound many a saint already. The matter was 
reported to the Bairagi. His resentment was roused, and he rushed back 
to his hermitage in order to take his revenge upon the offender. The 
Bairagi was red with anger and his fury knew no bounds. He used all his 
tricks and magic to up-turn the couch on the Guru, but in spite of his 
very best efforts, nothing would succeed. He was a little gripped with 
fear by then. He started wondering who the bold new comer could be. 
He came up to the Guru and looked closely at his face, its brilliant, 
spiritual light, its majestic, captivating and kindly eyes, abounding in 
divine grace, his golden plumes, a hawk perched on the thumb of his 
one hand, his sword hanging from his girdle, a bow tucked on his 
shoulder, looking a fascinating picture of both stateliness and spirituality 
harmoniously mingled. The very first look of the Guru had melted his 
anger and had won him over as an ardent admirer 26 

Unable to utter a single word and tongue-tied, the Bairagi found his 
hands joined in obeisance and head lowered in reverence. The kindly 
Guru smiled and said softly: "You had thrown away your spear, had 
broken your bow, and crushed your arrows; yet even, now, you have not 
changed your nature!" Madho Dass raised his eyes just a bit and cast them 
low again. His body shook from head to toe. He felt as if somebody had 
come to know his deepest secrets. Taking himself a little in hand and 
under control, he spoke, not without an effort: "Your holiness, I have lost 
all my merit and rectitude at the hands of such a high saint as yourself." 

The Guru: "What do you mean?" 

Madho Dass: "Your honour, I am a confirmed vegetarian saint. You 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

have killed lives and shed blood in my own house and you have 
desecrated my seat on which I sit, while worshipping my gods/' 

The Guru: "Does the shedding of blood profane your seat?" 

Madho Dass: "That is the principle of my Vaishnav creed." 

The Guru: "Is that so in spite of the fact that the blood has flowed in 
one corner of your large compound while your couch stands in a distant 
corner? How did that make your seat unhaloed?" 

Madho Dass: "Your lordship, when blood has been shed in the 
hermitage, no seat in any corner of it can escape the curse of impurity." 

The Guru: "Then tell me one thing: When in India rivers of blood of 
its guiltless inhabitants happen to flow over every inch of its soil, how 
was it that your hermitage in this locality could remain unprofaned so 
far in spite of it all?" 

These words went home and shook him out of complacency. His very 
soul was shaken out of its deep slumber and all his powers were up in 
revolt against his past. Thus staggered altogether, he exclaimed: "Well?" 

The Guru replied in a firm tone: "That is that." 

A new and bright light had dawned in the inner soul of the Bairagi 
now. He bowed and fell at the feet of the Guru and spoke with tears 
welling in his eyes: "Pardon me, my Lord, I am your humble votary 

The Guru: "And I am raising my Banda (servant) to the status of 
Banda Singh Bahadur." 

Madho Dass: "At your service and at your sacred feet, your 

The Guru: "My Banda Singh Bahadur, you are a huntsman by nature. 
Persevere in your vocation of hunting. I am granting to you an 
unbreakable bow in place of the one that you had broken and discarded 
once, and the arrows that will break the tyranny of the cruel, absolute 
ruler of our people. You hunted the helpless animals at one time. Come 
out now and kill the merciless tyrants of our motherland. I anoint you 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


to be the protector and saviour of the humble, helpless people from 
today onward." 27 

The Guru administered holy, Sikh baptism to Madho Dass with his 
hands. After taking Amrit (the nectar of the double-edged sword) from 
Guru Gobind Singh, he was named Banda Singh Bahadur. But 
Macauliffe writes that Banda was named Gurbaksh Singh. 28 This 
statement cannot be verified. There are some authorities, such as Karam 
Singh, Sohan Singh, Denzil Ibbetson, Edward Maclagan, Khazan Singh 
and Hari Ram Gupta and others, who are of the opinion that Banda 
Singh was not initiated into Sikhism by administering the Pahul, i.e., he 
was not administered Amrit by the Guru 29 But there exists weightier 
evidence to show that Banda was administered Amrit by the Guru and 
was then dressed like a Sikh. 30 In an instant he was a changed man. He 
was now no longer a Bairagi. He had now become a full fledged Sikh — 
a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh — a member of the Khalsa brotherhood. 31 
He had now found a true preceptor and saviour in Guru Gobind Singh 
who became the centre of all his religious devotions. His monastic 
establishment was at once dissolved and he followed his Lord to his 
camp to prepare for his new mission — a new life. 

The Guru instructed him in all the articles of the Sikh creed and its 
symbols. Banda Singh now learnt with great interest the Sikh scriptures 
and Sikh history with the help of other Sikhs present there. Within no 
time he acquaint himself with the early History of Sikhism, the lofty 
ideals of Guru Nanak, 32 Guru Gobind Singh and their efforts in raising 
a nation of saint-warriors mostly out of the long down-trodden classes of 
the Punjab. A narration of the stories of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan 
Dev and of Guru Teg Bahadur set his blood boiling with pious 
indignation. He also witnessed the wholesale persecution of millions of 
helpless non-Muslim subjects at the hands of the imperial officials. The 
accounts of the battles of Guru Gobind Singh himself against the hill 
Rajas and the Mughal imperial armies, given him by the Sikhs, made the 
muscles of his arms twitch and ready for immediate action. His mind 
was in revolt and his hands were involuntarily forced to grip his sword. 
But the doleful tale of the cold-blooded murder of the tenth Guru's 
younger sons, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, who were bricked up alive 
in a wall and were then mercilessly butchered to death for their refusal 
to abjure their faith and accept Islam, drew tears from his eyes and drove 
him into a sort of frenzy. Guru Gobind Singh liked Banda Singh's 
sensitive nature. He reminded him that "when tyranny had overtaken 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

men, it was the duty of the more sensitive to fight against it and even to 
lay down their life in the struggle". This is what Banda Singh Bahadur 
wanted actually and offered to do as he was bidden. Guru Gobind Singh, 
who had established the Khalsa and wanted to punish the tyrants of the 
common people, found -in Banda Singh a capable person having the 
capacity to create a sense of shared goals amongst the oppressed people 
and strengthen the unity of the faith. The meeting between the two great 
personalities of the age proved to be a very significant event in the 
history of Punjab in general and in the history of Sikhism in particular. 33 

Just in those days Guru Gobind Singh was stabbed by a Pathan 
named Jamshed Khan. 34 The news of this treacherous deed maddened 
Banda Singh to fury. His blood boiled. He could not now afford to 
remain inactive. He begged to be allowed to proceed to the Punjab to 
pull down the tyrannical rulers from their seats of power and accord 
them codign punishment. Because of physical disability due to the 
assassin's blow Guru Gobind Singh was not in a position to return to 
Punjab. Otherwise, of course, he would have gone back from Agra itself, 
had it not been for his negotiations with Bahadur Shah. He had written 
to his people on this point in his letter of mid-October 1707 A.D. He had 
now, therefore, no other course left open to him than to accede to Banda 
Singh's request and entrust the military command of his people to his 

Raj Pal Singh writes in his book 35 that in all probability when Guru 
Gobind Singh realised that his efforts to get justice from the Emperor 
Bahadur Shah were nowhere near success, he decided to send his men 
to Punjab under Banda Singh Bahadur to foment trouble there so that he 
could pressurize the Emperor for an early punishment to Wazir Khan 
who had killed innocent Sikhs, and thus settle the issue. For this 
purpose, he decided to commission Banda Singh Bahadur to march upon 
Punjab and accomplish by force what he had failed to accomplish by an 
appeal to justice. "Constitutional means and peaceful negotiations not 
only failed to get justice but also cost Guru Gobind Singh his life. The 
sword was now the last resort and the duty of using it devolved upon 
the Khalsa, with Banda Singh at their head, of course not as Guru, 36 but 
as commander of the forces of the Khalsa" 37 

At a darbar held at Nanded about the middle of September 1708 A.D., 
the Guru reconfirmed the title of Bahadur on Banda Singh and invested 
him with full political and military authority as his Deputy to carry on 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


the national struggle in the Punjab. Dr. Ganda Singh writes that Guru 
entrusted to him the noble task of continuing the war against the 
tyrannies and oppressions of his time. And in the execution of that duty, 
Banda Singh, of course, punished the wrong-doers for the cold-blooded 
murders of Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh. A Nishan Sahib and a Nagara, 
or a flag and drum, were bestowed upon him as emblems of temporal 
authority. The Guru gave five arrows from his own quiver as "pledge 
and token of victory". He was given an advisory council of five devoted 
Sikhs, consisting of Bhais. Binod Singh, Kahan Singh, Baj Singh, Day a 
Singh and Ram Singh. 38 These five Sikhs were appointed to assist him. 
Twenty more Sikhs were to accompany him to assist him to the theatre 
of their future war-like activities or to act as his bodyguards. The secret 
of his success lay, he was told, in his remaining pure of heart and honest. 
He was not to touch another man's wife, was to look upon himself as a 
servant of the Khalsa who would be his true Guru. He was to undertake 
no important task without an ardasa, or a prayer to the Almighty. 
Whatever he did, he was to take in it the advice of the "Five Sikhs" 
Banda was not to found any sect, nor call himself a Guru. He was not to 
permit his victories to elate him, nor his defeats depress him. These were 
in brief the instructions which the Guru gave to Banda Singh Bahadur. 
He was raised to the position of Jathedar or leader of the Khalsa and 
strengthened by the Guru's Hukamnamas or letters to the Sikhs all over 
the country to join Banda Singh Bahadur in his war against Mughal 
tyranny. 39 Three hundred Sikh cavaliers in battle array accompanied 
Banda to a distance of eight kilometres to give him the final send off. 40 

The Guru refused to accompany the Emperor beyond Nanded, as he 
was severely wounded by a Pathan named Jamshed Khan, set on the 
Guru by Wazir Khan with the connivance of the court nobles and 
Emperor himself. The despatch of Banda Singh to the Punjab had 
infuriated Emperor Bahadur Shah. As a result of his intrigue the Guru 
passed away on October 7, 1708 A.D. Banda Singh had not gone far 
when he heard the sad news. This did not discourage him. On the 
contrary it doubled his zeal and sent the fire of vengeance ablaze in his 
heart. But he was very careful about the safety of his group on account 
of Emperor's hostility. He wanted to reach Punjab before the Emperor 
was free from the revolt of his brother Kam Baksh at Hyderabad. Banda 
Singh seems to have travelled in disguise and by circuitous routes to 
avoid detection. Generally, he adopted the same route across 
Maharashtra and Rajasthan as was followed by Guru Gobind Singh. The 
distance between Nanded and Hissar in Haryana by that route was 1600 
km. 41 At the rate of 16 km. or 10 miles a day on an average, Banda Singh 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

should not have taken more than 100 days during his journey, but he 
actually took about a year. It means that he might have been frequently 
in hiding. The Emperor could have instructed his officers to make short 
work of Banda Singh and his party, as this much of diplomacy he could 
not have ignored. That is why Banda Singh travelled right across 
Maharashtra and Rajasthan, both of which were in revolt against the 
Mughals. 42 

On the way, whenever Banda Singh Bahadur remembered the Sikh 
martyrs and that of the most brutal martyrdom of the two children of the 
Guru at Sarhind, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, made his blood boil. 
Their murder by making them stand at a spot while a brick-wall was 
build around them to suffocate them to death, had shocked him beyond 
words. It made him grow so agitated and restless as to wish strongly to 
reach Sarhind in a single day to wreak his vengeance on the tyrannical 
Nawab there. 

They had, thus, reached Bharatpur by steady marches when they 
were faced with an unexpected hardship, they had exhausted their funds 
and were yet far from their destination. They were not in a position to 
take to any law breaking in that territory. All of them, however, joined 
now in making a prayer to their Guru to help them in this contingency. 
The prayer had a desired result. Just then a party of Lobana Sikhs turned 
up there, who were on a business trip to a distant area. They made an 
offering of their Daswandh* 3 to Banda Singh Bahadur. This was a timely 
help which enabled him to continue his march without any further 
embarrassment. They were, thus, enabled to continue their march till 
they had reached the neighbourhood of Delhi. 

In a few months Banda arrived at the frontier of the Delhi province 
and his speed of march was slightly slowed. Now he had to proceed 
carefully. Here he paid attention to winning people to his camp. So he 
started organizing assemblies of the people. Gradually, his popularity 
increased and people flocked to him, taking him as the representative of 
Guru Gobind Singh. He started praying for the welfare of the audience 
and also started giving financial help to the needy. The latter device 
further added to his popularity. In this connection, Ganda Singh writes: 
"He (Banda Singh) prayed for the prosperity of all who visited him and 
enjoined upon the hearts of all who met him. His generosity knew no 
bounds. He paid all in gold mohars, of which he had some piles ready 
by his side." 44 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


In Hissar district, called the Bangardesh, where Banda Singh was in 
October 1709 A.D., he was well-received by the Hindus and Sikhs as a 
leader of the nationalist movement and deputy of Guru Gobind Singh. 
Liberal offerings were made to him in the cause of the country and 
dharma (religion and virtue) which he distributed among his followers 
and the poor and the needy. Banda Singh Bahadur had so far been quiet 
and had followed the policy of non-interference in the affairs of others. 
This, however, he could not continue for long. Bangar in those days was 
notorious for occasional visitations of professional dacoits. So, in this 
region, he took to suppressing dacoits and robbers, seized their booty 
and gave it to the poor people (as Banda Singh was advertised as a man 
of wealth, gang of dacoits hovered round his camp). This noble act of 
bravery was the beginning of the glorious, though short, career of this 
hero. It won him great fame in the neighbourhood and he was 
occasionally called upon to protect villages from plundering parties. It 
was publicly proclaimed by the waving of scarf, 45 that he undertook to 
protect the poor and the helpless against all professional robbers and 
official tyrants, and that he expected no reward from the people in lieu 
of the service rendered except the simple necessaries of life, such as 
rations and "milk and curd". He further invited people into the fold of 
the Khalsa Brotherhood and promised them a share in the conquered 
lands. 46 This, however, was very distasteful to the Chaudhris of the ilaqa 
who were, as a rule, in league with officials on one hand, and bad 
characters, on the other. They generally had as their share a fixed 
percentage from the total proceeds of their successful raids. Complaints 
were, therefore, made by them to the local Amils. But before they could 
take any action, Banda Singh moved on into the pargana of Kharkhauda 
and established himself near the villages of Sehri and Khanda. 47 Never 
perhaps in the history of Punjab did the circumstances of the time offer 
so fair a field to the ambitions of a leader, conscious of great talents and 
called to the command of a warlike people only too eager to support him 
in any enterprise he might undertake. The Emperor was away in the 
Deccan, and many of his notable chiefs and commanders had been killed 
in the recently fought civil war. The governors of Delhi, Sarhind, Lahore 
and Jammu acted independently and had no cooperation among 
themselves. Banda Singh directed his attention to the east towards Delhi. 
There were two more motives behind move. He wanted to leave Mata 
Sahib Deva in Delhi and plunder the government officials and rich 
people of the fertile area of Haryana. From Kharkhauda, about 50 km 
norm-west of Delhi, Mata Sahib Deva was sent to Delhi under proper 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

escort of Bhai Mani Singh, the most trusted man of Guru Gobind Singh, 
to join Mata Sundari, who was leading the Khalsa in the midst of such 
adversities. 48 Like the fight against the dacoits, Banda Singh exhorted his 
audience to fight against injustice and tyranny of the Mughal rulers. 
People responded admirably to his call. His number began to swell. 

From here, he despatched the Guru's letters to the Sikhs of the 
Malwa, the Doaba and the Majha districts of the Punjab, calling upon 
them to join him in the laudable object of uprooting the tyrannous rule 
of the intolerant Mughals. His companions from Nanded, as well wrote 
a large number of letters to the leading Sikhs all over the country, telling 
them that Banda Singh Bahadur had been appointed by the Guru 
himself as Jathedar of the Khalsa and that it behoved every true Sikh to 
fall in under his banner. To appeal to the sentiments of the people, they 
reminded them of the cruel death of the two sons of the Guru at Sarhind 
and exhorted them to join in punishing Faujdar Wazir Khan of Sarhind 
and his Peshkar Sucha Nand, who had so cruelly butchered the young 
children. This produced a miraculous effect upon the minds of the Sikhs 
who were already burning with rage against them for these atrocities. 49 

The Sikhs responded to the call. They began to pour in from all 
quarters, which alarmed the Mughal officials, particularly the Faujdar of 
Sarhind, Wazir Khan, who feared them the most. Immediately he issued 
orders to watch the roads and river fords and to obstruct the passage of 
the northern Sikhs into the Malwa districts. Therefore, the southern 
Sikhs were the first to join Banda Singh Bahadur. Next to the banjaras, 
who came in with a train of bullocks laden with ration, joined Bhai Fateh 
Singh, a descendant of Bhai Bhagtu, Karam Singh and Dharam Singh of 
Bhai Rupe, Nigahia Singh and Chuhar Singh, with as many followers as 
they could collect. Many Jat and Barar Sikhs of the neighbourhood and 
Bangar territory came of their own accord. Although Chaudhris Ram 
Singh and Tilok Singh, the ancestors of the Phulkian chiefs, could not 
join in person, they liberally contributed in men and money. A large 
number of professional robbers and soldiers of fortune who anticipated 
a large booty from the condemned city of Sarhind also joined the holy 
warriors. Ali Singh, Mali Singh and other Sikhs of Salaudi (in the service 
of Wazir Khan) also volunteered themselves to fight in the name and for 
the cause of their Guru. Many other well-known Sikhs of Guru Gobind 
Singh joined hands with Banda Singh to wreak vengeance on the 
enemies of the Guru. A large number of irregulars also joined the Khalsa 
army in the hope of getting a rich booty. Thus, Banda Singh, before he 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


actually started fighting, had got a large following to the tune of several 
thousand armed men. In two or three months' time, writes Khafi Khan, 
"four to five thousand pony riders and seven to eight thousand war-like 
footmen joined him". Day by day their number increased and abundant 
money and material by pillage fell into their hands. 50 

News now arrived that the Sikhs from the Majha and the Doaba had 
collected in great numbers in the hills at Kiratpur on the other side of the 
Sutlej, and that their passage was blocked by the Pathans of Maler Kotla 
and Rupar. They had to suffer under a great disadvantage on account of 
the long distance they had to cover, and for the shortage of funds for the 
expenses of the journey. Their difficulties were further aggravated by the 
fact that the fords of the Sutlej were guarded against them. Bhai 
Peshaura Singh and Kishora Singh, merchants of Kiratpur, were, 
however, of great service to them in running a Guru Ka hangar and 
supplying them with food and money. On receiving their message, 
Banda Singh Bahadur sent word to them to stay on where they were and 
not to advance out of their safe position until they received instructions 
from him to that effect. 51 

In the opinion of Gokul Chand Narang, Banda Singh's army 
consisted of three categories of persons. The first were the true and loyal 
Sikhs, who had sat at the feet of Guru Gobind Singh himself and had 
rallied round Banda Singh in a spirit of dedication and self-sacrifice to 
carry on the crusade against the enemies of their race and religion. The 
second consisted of mercenaries who had been recruited and sent to 
Banda Singh by such chieftains as Ram Singh and Tilok Singh of the 
Phool family who, not being quite hopeful about the success of the new 
movement, did not like to run the risk of losing court favour and their 
possessions and could not take the risk of joining personally the army of 
Banda Singh. They secretly paid for the arms and accoutrements 
(military dress, arms and equipment, etc.) of large bodies of troops and 
keeping themselves in the background, continued to help the movement 
in a secret way. The third category comprised the irregulars who were 
attracted to Banda Singh for their love of booty and plunder. They were 
professional robbers and dacoits, men of reckless daring who joined the 
movement with the object of looting cities. 52 

Banda Singh's appeal to the oppressed and the news of the death of 
the tenth Guru, created a highly inflammable situation in Punjab. The 
sustained persecution of the Sikhs including murder of Guru Gobind 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Singh attracted the attention of the people in general on their ideology 
with the result that many of them turned sympathisers of their cause and 
quite a big segment of them joined the Khalsa. According to Khushwant 
Singh, "at that time the distinction between a formally baptised 'Singh' 
and a Hindu who while retaining his Hindu name and practices, was in 
close sympathy with the Khalsa, was not great". 53 This swelling of the 
ranks of his followers emboldened Banda Singh Bahadur to throw an 
open challenge to the Mughal empire by attacking Sonepat, not far off 
from the imperial seat of power Delhi. He entered Sonepat looted the 
state treasury and the homes of the rich, and distributed whatever he got 
among his men. At this time, Bahadur Shah was still busy in Deccan 
fighting his brother Kam Baksh. Banda Singh Bahadur had targetted 
important commercial towns and trading centres before attacking the 
governor of Sarhind with a view to collect sufficient amount of money 
for paying his army and also for purchase of war material. Secondly, by 
defeating the faujdar and other imperial officials stationed in these 
fortified towns, he wanted to weaken the chances of reaching immediate 
reinforcement to the help of Wazir Khan from the surrounding areas. 

Samana was the object of Banda Singh's next attack. While on their 
march, Banda Singh received a report in the neighbourhood of Kaithal 
that a large amount of imperial treasure, revenue collections of those 
districts, was being taken to Delhi, escorted by a small guard which had 
halted at village Bhuna. Banda Singh thought it to be a golden 
opportunity not to be missed. So he hastened to that village, fell upon 
the guard, put them to death and took possession of the treasure. 54 

The report of Banda Singh's raid was sent to the Governor of Kaithal. 
He at once reached the spot with all his soldiery and mounted 
constabulary to meet the Sikhs, whom he found a strong match. But the 
Sikhs were being handicapped because of their being on foot and the 
Amil's forces being on horses. Banda Singh hit upon a plan, according to 
which they all entered the neighbouring wood and hid themselves there. 
The wood being full of thorny bushes, the enemy's force found it 
difficult to search for them while mounted on horses. So they got down 
from their horses and started the search. Banda Singh at once gave a 
signal to his men, who came out, caught the horses and appeared before 
the dismounted imperial force, thus surprising them. This tactics was 
one of the fundamentals of war. Many were put to sword and others took 
to their heels, leaving the Amil behind. The Amil was captured by the 
Singhs. He was later released on the condition of making over all horses 
to Banda Singh's comrades to which he readily agreed. The loot was 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


distributed by Banda Singh proportionately among the followers, and 
also the gang he had invited. This convinced everyone of the 
unselfishness of their gallant leader. Banda Singh Bahadur and the Sikhs 
were greatly encouraged by these small but successful beginnings. 55 

It is clear that so far, except a small number of Sikhs from the 
surrounding areas, Banda Singh Bahadur had not received any help from 
the Sikhs of central Punjab. Therefore, it was perhaps Banda Singh's 
primary aim to attack Samana so as to attract the active help of the Sikhs 
from their heartland. 56 Jalal-ud-Din, the executioner of Guru Tegh 
Bahadur, was the native of Samana. In addition, the killers of the two 
sons of Guru Gobind Singh at Sarhind, Shashal Beg and Bashal Beg, also 
belonged to this town. Ali Husain, who by false promises had lured 
Guru Gobind Singh to evaculate Anandpur, also belonged to Samana. It 
was an accursed place in the eyes of the Sikhs. The entire peasantry of 
the neighbourhood was now up in arms and Banda Singh's following 
had risen to several thousand. 57 

Samana was one of the richest towns in those days and was expected 
to yield a booty large enough to free them from the anxiety of enormous 
expenses required to equip them for their future military operations. It 
was well-fortified by a strong wall and every haveli of Amirs of high rank 
was a fortress in itself. The Faujdar of Samana, it appears, was confident 
that he could repulse the attack of any enemy outside the city walls, and 
that even if besieged, the impregnability of his fortifications would force 
the enemy to raise the siege and retire. He paid no attention, therefore, 
to the rumours of an attack by the Sikhs, whose levies, he thought, were 
too raw to stand against his brave and disciplined soldiers. But he was 
soon disillusioned, when on the morning of November 20, 1709, A.D., 
Banda Singh Bahadur and his men suddenly rushed upon the town from 
a distance of about 10 kos and entered it from all sides before the gates 
could be closed against them. The inhabitants were massacred in cold 
blood and the town was thoroughly squeezed. So the beautiful town of 
Samana, with its palatial buildings, was converted into a heap of ruins, 
never to regain its past glory. Samana was the district town and had nine 
parganas attached to it. It was placed under the charge of Fateh Singh as 
Banda Singh was very much impressed by the daring spirit and bravery 
of Bhai Fateh Singh, who rightly deserved the credit given to him for his 
distinguished service in this first important victory. Although Kaithal 
had also been formally conquered, Samana had generally been called by 
historians the first regular conquest of Banda Singh Bahadur and the first 
administered unit of Banda Singh, of course. A large quantity of gold, 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

arms and ammunition fell into his hands while everybody fighting 
under him became rich and prosperous. 58 Fateh Singh was given a body 
of troopers to maintain peace and order. 

Wazir Khan of Sarhind was much alarmed to hear the news of 
invasion and occupation of Samana by the Sikhs. Wazir Khan was well 
aware that his capital could not escape a similar fate for long. He was, 
therefore, busy in making preparations to ensure that the fate of Samana 
did not befall Sarhind. He was concerting every possible precautionary 
measure to avoid this catastrophe, and was collecting every bit of 
information about the military strength and resources of the Sikhs. He 
sent his spies to Samana for the purpose. Banda Singh, on the other 
hand, was no less vigilant, and when information was brought to him 
about the spies in the bazaar, he ordered them to be brought before him. 
One of them was without an eye and the other without a hand. Both of 
them were given a terrible shoe-beating and were then sent away with 
a message for Wazir Khan, asking him to get ready to meet the 
advancing Khalsa like a brave soldier. 59 

The swift success of his army did not turn Banda Singh's head. He 
planned his next move wisely and executed them boldly. He knew they 
were not strong enough to risk a battle with a much greater force of the 
Faujdar, far better equipped and provisioned. Wazir Khan possessed a 
long train of field artillery, 60 consisting of heavy guns and zambooraks, 
and his city was well-fortified. The Khalsa, on the other hand, were only 
equipped with swords and spears, the number of matchlock men among 
them being hopelessly small. To provide the Sikhs with all the necessary 
implements of war with his limited resources when he was surrounded 
by enemies on all sides, was out of question. His success, he thought, 
mostly depended upon the increase of his strength in men, brave and 
self-sacrificing like the heroes of Chamkaur. This could only be effected 
on the arrival of the Majha and the Doaba Sikhs from across the Sutlej 
where they were held up by the Maler Kotla and Rupar detachments. 
With this object in view, Banda Singh set out in the eastern direction 
towards Kiratpur by a long circuitous route. On the way, Banda Singh 
invaded Ghuram and Thaska. Shahabad, inhabited by Muslim Ranghars, 
notorious for rape and rapine, were destroyed next. Damala was the 
village of those Pathans who had deserted Guru Gobind Singh in the 
battle of Bhangani. It was ravaged. 61 Mustafabad, 40 km south-west of 
Ambala, was also attacked and it fell before Banda Singh and the Khalsa 
without much resistance. The officers were punished for their tyranny 
and oppression. 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


The next target for attack was the cruel Zamindar of Kapuri village, 
Qadam-ud-Din. The Zamindar was a moral-wreck of the worst type and 
stories of his profligacy were still, after the lapse of about three centuries, 
current in Kapuri and its neighbourhood. There was hardly a beautiful 
Hindu woman there whose chastity had not been destroyed by this 
depraved ruler. His sawars prowled over the territory, waylaying Hindu 
marriage parties and snatching away young brides. Thus Qadam-ud-Din 
was a terror to the non-Muslims of the region. 62 Banda Singh Bahadur 
immediately pounced upon Kapuri, killed him and captured his fort. 
Even by then, the Sikhs from Doaba and Majha had not been able to 
cross the Sutlej and join Banda Singh Bahadur. But by his bold actions 
Banda Singh Bahadur had received a substantial booty and war material. 

Banda Singh's next expedition was against Sadhura. Its ruler, Osman 
Khan, was notorious for the oppression of his subjects. He was the same 
man who had tortured to death the great Muslim saint Sayyed Badar-ud- 
Din-Shah, popularly known as Sayyed Budhu Shah, simply because he 
had helped Guru Gobind Singh in the battle of Bhangani. The Hindus of 
this place were subjected to every kind of indignity. Even their dead 
were not allowed to be burnt. The Hindus complaint to him that "the 
Muhammadans slaughter cows in our lanes and streets, nay before our 
very houses and leave their blood and entrails there; they do not permit 
the Hindus to perform their religious ceremonies". Banda Singh and his 
companions now everywhere appeared to be "the defenders of the 
faith". So this highhandedness infuriated Banda Singh Bahadur and he 
ordered the attack of Sadhaura. 

With the advance of Banda Singh and the Sikhs upon Sadhaura, the 
aggrieved peasantry and many others of the neighbourhood, who were 
only waiting for a favourable chance for rising, swelled the number of 
the invaders and rushed into the town. The angry mob, uncontrollable 
even by Banda Singh, set fire to the mausoleum of Qutab-ul-Aqtab, and 
a bloody battle ensued in the streets. The frightened Sayyeds and Shaikhs 
had taken Shelter in the haveli of Shah Badar-ud-Din, probably on the 
presumption that, as the martyred Sayyed had been a friend of the late 
Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikhs might spare their lives. But the Sikhs were 
powerless. They were comparatively small in number and unknown to 
the place. It was mostly the infuriated peasantry, inspired by a spirit of 
revenge against their persecutors, that worked havoc here as elsewhere. 
They had silently and helplessly suffered under the oppression of these 
people for years, and now, when their chance came, nothing short of a 
wholesale massacre could satisfy them. All the inmates of the haveli were 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

indiscriminately put to the sword and, on this account the place is up to 
this day called the Qatalgarhi or slaughter house. 63 

After having punished Osman Khan and captured Sadhaura, Banda 
Singh now hurried in the north-westerly direction to relieve the northern 
Sikhs who had collected on the other side of the Sutlej near Kiratpur, 64 
and were anxiously waiting for his orders. Now Banda Singh sent his 
message to the Majhail Sikhs at Kiratpur, saying that they were to 
proceed towards Kharar, while he himself was advancing to Banoor. On 
his way, Banda Singh occupied the small town of Chhat, on the appeal 
of the Hindus for protection against the aggressions of the local Muslims 
and complained of their usual highhandedness in the most pitiful 
language. Their loose morality and religious intolerance were a terror to 
their (Hindus) honour and faith. Banda Singh Bahadur after its 
occupation, placed it under a Sikh Amil. 

However small these victories may be, they certainly encouraged the 
followers of Banda Singh, boosted their morale, and attracted others to 
come under his banner. These victories served as a stepping stone to a 
bigger one to follow, i.e., the victory of Sarhind. After the conquests of 
Sonepat, Kaithal, Samana, Shahabad, Mustafabad and Sadhaura, Banda 
Singh Bahadur had appointed his own men as Amils, responsible for 
their civil and military administration and, thus, had acquired political 
power in the recently conquered region. These activities of the Khalsa 
under Banda Singh alarmed Wazir Khan of Sarhind and he repeatedly 
wrote to the Emperor to secure reinforcement, telling him that the rebels 
under Banda Singh Bahadur had emerged triumphant everywhere. The 
petitions of Wazir Khan were brought to the notice of the Emperor as 
early as February 25, 1710, A. D., and farmans were issued to the faujdar 
of Emnabad on April 28, 1710, A.D., that he should in collaboration with 
Rustam Khan, the Diwan of Lahore province, chastise all the followers 
of Nanak. Again, on May 12, 1710, A.D., on learning about the activities 
of the Banda Singh, the Emperor issued orders that "the faujdar be 
urgently told to take action against them". However, no faujdar could 
extend help to Wazir Khan because they had themselves become helpless 
due to rebellion in their own realms. 65 

Banda Singh Bahadur knew about the fatal consequences if he 
delayed any more the attack on Sarhind. Therefore, he advanced from 
Sadhaura towards Banoor and the Sikhs from the central districts of the 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


Punjab, after crossing the Sutlej, arrived at Kiratpur. Wazir Khan tried to 
block the arrival of the Majha and Doab Sikhs towards Sarhind with the 
help of Nawab Sher Mohammad of Maler Kotla. He tried in vain to 
blockade the Sikhs 7 advance towards south as his forces were easily 
defeated by the Sikhs at Ropar. His three brothers, Khizar Khan, Nashtar 
Khan and Wali Muhammad Khan were killed, and he himself was 
wounded. The sikhs now won the day. On the enemy's defeat and flight, 
the left-over arms, ammunition and ration fell into the hands of the 
Singhs. Now without loss of time, they hurried southward to join their 
leader as early as possible. While the northern Sikhs were fighting with 
the Afghans of Maler Kotla, Banda Singh had marched upon Banoor 
which offered him no appreciable resistance and fell before him without 
striking a blow. Banda Singh, at this time, was highly pleased to hear 
about the glorious victory of his gallant allies at Rupar and marched out 
a few miles from his camp to receive them. The memorable junction took 
place between Kharar and Banoor on the Ambala-Ropar road. 66 

Reinforced thus, Banda Singh was in no mood to lose time for his 
final assault on Sarhind. The ultimate aim of Banda Singh was to punish 
Wazir Khan and the conquest of Sarhind, where the two innocent sons 
of Guru Gobind Singh, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh were bricked up 
alive by Wazir Khan at the instance of Sucha Nand Khatri and through 
the treachery of Gangu Brahmin, the servant companion of the Guru's 
mother and the two Sahibzadas. Thus, owing to his own sins and the 
news of Banda's victories, Wazir Khan was passing sleepless nights. The 
Sikhs anxiously looked forward to the happy prospect of the holy 
crusade against the condemned city of Sarhind and its Governor, while 
the number of plunderers who followed the Sikhs to prey upon the 
countless riches that were supposed to have been amassed in the city 
during many centuries, was steadily increasing. It was this class of 
people who were mostly responsible for indiscriminate murder and 
plunder during these expeditions. They were the most dangerous and 
unreliable allies and were not unoften seen deserting Banda Singh in the 
thick of battle wherever they feared a defeat. Preparation for an attack on 
Sarhind were soon made. This infused a new spirit in the minds of the 
Khalsa. Fearing this, the Nawab of Sarhind caused the nephew of his 
Hindu Wazir, Sucha Nand to force his way along with a thousand 
trained men into Banda Singh's camp pretending loyalty to him but to 
put him to death at the earliest possible opportunity. Banda Singh, a man 
of simple faith, put trust in his word and accepted him and his force. 67 
In the meantime, Wazir Khan concerted every possible measure for the 
protection of Sarhind and himself. He combined with him four or five 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

noted faujdars and zamindars and to collect as large a number of men as 
could possibly be, so he had proclaimed Jehad, a religious war, against 
the kafirs or infidel Sikhs. A large number of ghazis or religious warriors 
from far and near responded to the call, and in a few days innumerable 
religious volunteers, in addition to the regular forces of his own and his 
allies, mustered round him. He collected large stores of lead and gun- 
powder and mobilized a long train of artillery and elephants to meet the 
Sikhs. According to Khafi Khan, Wazir Khan was leading a force of 
15,000 men. 68 According to Dr. Ganda Singh, to this may be added the 
number of the ghazis, 5000 at the least. 69 

On the other hand, Banda Singh Bahadur had no artillery and no 
elephants, nay, not even the required number of horses for all his men. 
Only a few pf his men possessed matchlocks. Long spears, arrows and 
swords were the only weapons of war that the Sikhs were equipped 
with. The indomitable courage, an unsurpassable activity of Banda Singh 
and his devoted Sikhs, however, made up for their meagre resources. He 
mostly depended for his success upon the spirit that, he knew, would be 
infused in the minds of his men at the very sight of the city associated 
with cold-blooded murder of the young sons of their prophet. The exact 
strength of the Sikh force cannot be ascertained, though, according to 
Khafi Khan, the number of the Sikhs before the invasion of Sarhind had 
increased to thirty or forty thousand. 70 This number, according to Ganda 
Singh, was very much exaggerated to show that the Muhammadan force 
was much less in numerical strength than that of the Sikhs. 71 But their 
leadership by and large was in the hands of the tried and devout 
followers of Guru Gobind Singh, like Baj Singh, Fateh Singh, Karam 
Singh, Dharam Singh, Sham Singh and Ali Singh. 72 Wazir Khan came out 
to meet the Khalsa with a large force and an innumerable host of 
crusaders. Both the armies came face to face on the plains of Chappar- 
Chiri on May 12, 1710, A.D. 73 

Banda Singh Bahadur entrusted the command of his Malwa Sikhs to 
Bhai Fateh Singh, Karam Singh, Dharam Singh, Ali Singh and Sham 
Singh, and he himself occupied a place on a mound nearby to watch and 
direct the movements of the army. As soon as the battle began and the 
Nawab's artillery opened fire, the robbers and irregulars, who, though, 
were several thousand, had no common commandant and whom only 
the love of booty had brought together, took to flight. The next to desert 
were the one thousand men of the treacherous nephew of Sucha Nand. 
This caused a little confusion in the Sikh ranks. Baj Singh galloped back 
to inform Banda Singh of the shaky condition of the battle. 74 Banda 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


Singh now rushed forward to the forefront of his army and boldly led 
them on to the attack. The Sikhs were very much encouraged by this 
bold movement of their leader and with the loud shouts of Wahiguruji 
ki Fateh, they fell in a compact body upon the Muhammadans, advanced 
sword in hand against their line of elephants and brought two of them 
down. The Muhammadan force was unable to stand the fierce a'nd 
repeated attacks of the Sikhs and many of them were killed in the battle- 
field. Sher Muhammad Khan and Khwaja Ali of Maler Kotla were also 
killed/ 5 and confusion arose in the imperial ranks. Wazir Khan, then 
eighty years old, made no attempt to escape, but tried to rally his men, 
and continued to shoot his arrows at the enemy. At last he met Baj Singh 
and struck at him with his spear. Baj Singh laid hold of it and with it 
wounded the Khan's horse in the forehead. Wazir Khan then drew his 
bow and hit Baj Singh, on the arm and drawing his sword tried to make 
an end of him. Fateh Singh, who was waiting nearby, gave Wazir Khan 
a cut on his sword belt that wounded him from the shoulder to the waist 
and his head fell to the ground. 76 According to Khazan Singh, Wazir 
Khan fell from his horse and was captured alive. According to 
Macauliffe 77 and the author of Sura] Prakash, 78 Wazir Khan was killed by 
Banda Singh, but with the arrow given to him by the Guru. Dr. Ganda 
Singh says that Baj Singh snatched the lance from Wazir Khan and struck 
his horse on the head and wounded it, whereas Fateh Singh, who was 
standing nearby, thrust his sword at the sword-belt so strongly that 
passed through his shoulder to his waist and he fell down. The opinion 
of Historian Karam Singh is different. He says: "The heroes were 
wielding their swords. Suddenly an arrow struck Wazir Khan and he fell 
down from his horse." 79 As soon as Wazir Khan fell down, his army fled. 
He was caught alive. Karam Singh says that Wazir Khan was then tied 
with a rope, dragged through the city. When dead, he was tied to a tree 
for the birds to feast upon the corpse. This view is also endorsed by the 
author of Banda the Brave, when he also says: "His (Wazir Khan's) legs 
were tied with a rope, he was dragged through the bazaars of the town. 
And when this had been done, he was fastened to a tree where his corpse 
furnished a feast to kites and condors." 80 Khafi Khan says that he was 
struck by a musket ball. 81 Akhbarat-e-Durbar-e-Mualla, dated May 13, 
1710, stated that the battle began in the morning and lasted until 
afternoon. Wazir Khan was wounded by arrows and bullets and fell 
dead. His son and son-in-law also perished. 82 Latif writes that he was 
killed by an arrow which pierced his breast. 83 Kanhayialal says he was 
struck by a bullet in breast. 84 Thus, it is certain that Wazir Khan was 
killed in the battle of Chappar-Chiri. His son, not caring for his father, ran 
away to Delhi with the members of the royal family, leaving behind him 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

the hoards of wealth accumulated by his father. On seeing the fall of 
Wazir Khan's head to the ground, the imperial army took to flight 
towards Sarhind leaving behind their horses, arms, tents, cannons and 
other ammunitions of war which were taken over by the Sikhs. 85 Wazir 
Khan's head was stuck up on a spear and lifted high up by a Sikh who 
took his seat in the deceased's howdah. The Sikhs with one voice and in 
a wild excitement raised the sky-rending shouts of Sat Sri Akal. The 
Muslim troops on beholding the Nawab's head trembled and fled helter 
skelter in dismay and despair. The Sikhs fell upon them and there was 
a terrible carnage. Blood flowed freely not only in the battlefield but on 
a wide tract up to the city of Sarhind. 86 Wazir Khan's body was dragged 
up by oxen and was then burnt. 87 Khafi Khan writes that in the course 
of flight not a man of the army of Islam escaped with more than his life 
and the clothes he stood in. Horsemen and footmen fell under the 
swords of the infidels (Sikhs) who pursued them as far as Sarhind. 88 

Wazir Khan's army was totally defeated and routed. The victorious 
Banda Singh and his Sikhs were now masters of the field. They ascribed 
the victory to Wahiguru, the Almighty, and their loud and joyous shouts 
of "Wahiguru ji ki Feteh" 89 rent the air. They now marched upon the city 
of Sarhind which was about ten miles from the field of battle, according 
to Dr. Ganda Singh. The Sikhs reached Sarhind by nightfall. The gates of 
the city were closed. The guns mounted on the walls of the fort 
commenced bombardment. The Sikhs laid a siege to the place. They took 
rest in the night and gained strength for another trial the following day. 
Wazir Khan's family had already fled to Delhi. Many other well-to-do 
people ran off with all that they could carry away. Everyone who had 
been left behind, according to Muhammad Qasim, was taken prisoner. 
Only those who disguised and hid themselves in the houses of the 
Hindus, escaped injury. 90 Sucha Nand, the Hindu Peshkar of Wazir Khan, 
was "one of the principal objects". Severe fighting took place on May 13, 
1710, A.D. The fort guns caused great havoc among the Sikhs and about 
500 of them lost their lives. 91 The Sikhs in knots were hammering at the 
gates and the Mughal gunners obviously were playing a losing game. 
The Sikhs succeeded in breaking open a couple of gates. On May 14, 
1710, A.D., Banda Singh's troops entered the town and inside the town 
destruction of life and property knew no bounds. The sentiments of the 
crusaders had been very much excited by the cold-blooded murder of 
the young sons of Guru Gobind Singh in this town. And, now, when 
they entered it after a bloody struggle, the memory of that ghastly scene 
naturally ignited their fury. Moreover, host of the plunderers who had 
now rushed in from all sides, could not be restrained and so the City lost 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


heavily in life and property. The irregulars avenged their personal 
animosities in a most reckless manner and paid their persecutors in their 
own coin and, perhaps, with compound interest. Many well-to-do 
families of the nobles ran off with all that they could carry away. 92 Sucha 
Nand suffered an mgominious death and his houses were subjected to a 
rapacious plunder. "Particularly the hoards and havelis of Sachidanand 
(Sucha Nand)," writes Muhammad Qasim, "had been, as if, amassed and 
raised for this day. ... I have heard it from reliable people of the 
neighbourhood that during the time of the late (Wazir) Khan, there was 
no Zullum (cruelty) that he had not inflicted upon the poor subjects and 
that there was no seed, of which he now reaped the fruit, that he had not 
sown for himself. 93 The booty that fell into the hands of Banda Singh was 
estimated at two crores of rupees in money and goods belonging to 
Wazir Khan and some lakhs belonging to Sucha Nand and others." 94 
Much more money and property was taken away by the irregulars in 
their carts. Sarhind was a famous commercial and trading centre of the 
Punjab and was quite prosperous. The Hindu traders and rich merchants 
had already handed over to Banda Bahadur a big amount of money as 
ransom to secure his protection against their oppressors. Banda Singh 
Bahadur proclaimed orders to the effect that none would attack the 
Hindus of the town. 95 It is without doubt that Banda Bahadur's 
victorious army punished Sarhind with unremitting severity and the 
Sikhs wreaked their vengeance on the city of sins (Sarhind). To contain 
the fury of the victors, Banda Singh had issued strict orders not to kill 
even a single animal there. 96 But plunderers' sense of vengeance on the 
town prevailed, and this order could not be implemented as desired by 
him. Several Muslims of note saved their lives by embracing Sikhism. 
Dindar Khan, son of Jalal Khan Rohilla, became Dindar Singh. The 
official news writer of Sarhind, Mir Nasir-ud-din, changed his name to 
Mir Nasir Singh, 97 

The entire province of Sarhind consisting of twenty-eight parganas, 
extending from the Sutlej to the Jamuna and from the Shiwalik hills to 
Kunjpura, Karnal and Kaithal, yielded 36 lakh rupees annually. 98 Sarhind 
came into Banda Singh's possession. Now Banda Singh took in hand the 
administration of the conquered territories. Baj Singh, his companion 
from Nanded, was appointed the Subedar or the Governor of Sarhind, 
with Ali Singh as his Naib. Bhai Fateh Singh was confirmed in his 
appointment as Governor of Samana, and Ram Singh, brother of Baj 
Singh, was appointed Governor of Thanesar jointly with Baba Binod 
Singh. 99 All thefaujdars of 28 recently conquered parganas were replaced 
by the men owing allegiance to Banda Singh Bahadur. 100 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Banda Singh soon became popular as the defender of the faith and 
the champion of the oppressed. He started holding regular darbars where 
people came and presented to him their grievances. He spared no pains 
in redressing their wrongs. In this way, he won the sympathy and love 
of the common man. One day a man named Bulaqa Singh, a Sikh 
musician, who had for some time been with Ali Singh, complained in an 
open Divan against the Ram Rayias of Ghudani, in the Thana of Payal. 
This village was inhabited by a large number of Khatris who were 
masands of the establishment of Ram Rae. One day Bulaqa Singh 
happened to be at their village. After the evening service of Rahiras in the 
Gurudwara of Guru Hargobind, when he repeated the words Khalsa 
Sahib Bolo ji Wahiguru (name of the Almighty) after the name of Guru 
Gobind Singh in the prayer, they got annoyed, abused and asssaulted 
him, broke his harp and used insulting language for the Guru. 101 It was 
very hard for Banda Singh to bear this type of insult hurled at the Guru 
Gobind Singh. Banda Singh at once marched out of Sarhind to punish 
and teach them a lesson. The Ram Rayias (masands) were caught, 
punished and driven out of the village. Banda Singh Bahadur then 
established a Sikh Thana at Payal and the complainant Bulaqa Singh was 
appointed its Thanedar. The choudhries of Gharoti, Dhamot and other 
neighbouring villages offered nazranas to Banda Singh and offered their 
allegiance. 102 

Banda Singh then marched towards Maler Kotla. In the confusion 
that had followed the attack upon Guru Gobind Singh after he crossed 
the Sirsa, Bibi Anoop Kaur, a Sikh maid servant of the house of the Guru, 
(some historians says that she was the sister of Mata Jito ji) fell into the 
hands of Sher Muhammad Khan of Maler Kotla and was carried away 
by him. 103 The brave Sikh woman, however, sacrificed her life at the altar 
of her faith and chastity. She thrust a dagger into her heart and 
committed suicide to save her honour. Sher Muhammad Khan, 
thereupon, quietly buried her in a grave. Anup Kaur had not embraced 
the faith of Islam and had died a Sikh. She should, therefore, have been 
cremated according to Sikh rites. Banda Singh was moved to hear the 
pathetic story and said that the last remains of the brave Sikh woman 
should no longer be allowed to rot in a grave. He, therefore, marched 
upon the town of Maler Kotla. There was no one to oppose his advance. 
The sons of Sher Muhammad Khan with all their families and 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


belongings had fled the place. Banda Singh had no intention to destroy 
Maler Kotla because its ruler Sher Muhammad Khan had advocated 
mercy for the children of Guru Gobind Singh at the time of their 
execution at Sarhind and the Guru had blessed him. 104 However 
insignificant may be the favour done by anyone towards a Sikh, his 
sense of gratitude is too strong for any feelings of revenge and he would 
readily forget and forgive the worst of his enemies. It was under this 
sense of gratitude that the Sikhs never raised even their little finger 
against the town of Maler Kotla, although the whole of its 
neighbourhood was trampled under the hoofs of horses and more than 
once the city of Sarhind was sacked and its magnificent buildings 
converted into heaps of ruin. 105 At Maler Kotla, Banda Singh met Kishan 
Das Bania, in whose house he spent some time during his previous 
mendicant excursions. Banda Singh recognised him and embraced him 
with a sense of gratitude and the Bania offered some money to Banda 
Singh with great respect. Banda Singh was not actuated by any offensive 
motive in this expedition, as stated above. So the town was left 
unmolested. He directed his attention exclusively to the last rites of Bibi 
Anup Kaur. Her body was exhumed and was cremated according to the 
Sikh rites. 106 Banda Singh Bahadur next proceeded to Raikot. The ruler 
offered no resistance and acknowledged him as his overlord and is said 
to have paid him a cash tribute of five thousand rupees. 107 

After the receipt of Nazrana from Raikot, Banda Singh Bahadur 
returned to Sarhind. The whole area surrendered to the Sikhs and 
submitted to the new Sikh administration introduced at Sarhind. From 
Sarhind, small detachments were sent in all directions to eliminate 
resistance, if any, to the newly established Sikh administration. Small 
parties carried expeditions into the north and north-west of Sarhind, and 
Banda Singluwas, in a few days, the undisputed master of the territory 
from Sadhaura to Raikot and from Machhiwara and Ludhiana to Karnal. 
After these conquests, the power and prestige of Banda Singh Bahadur 
increased immensely. He had conquered the area between Jhelum and 
Jamuna and governed it through his deputies. Such was the spirit of the 
Khalsa and the foresight of their commander that in less than a year of 
their entry in northern India, Sikhs under Banda Singh Bahadur 
converted their struggle into a people's movement and captured Sarhind 
province along with the surrounding territories. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Notes and References 

1. Macauliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Religion, its Guru's Sacred Writings and Authors, 
1963, New Delhi, Vol. V, p. 237. 

2. Irvine, William, Later Mughals, 1972, Delhi, Vol. I, p. 93. 

3. Khushwant Singh, History of the Sikhs, 1469-1849, Vol. II, pp. 2-4. 

4. Ganda Singh, Life of Banda Singh Bahadur, p. 1. 

5. Giani Gian Singh, Shamsher Khalsa, quoted by Raj Pal Singh in Banda Bahadur And 
His Times, p. 10. 

6. Karam Singh, Banda Bahadur, p. 20. 

7. Veni Prasad, Guru Gobind Singh, quoted by Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 10. 

8. Khurana, Gianeswar, Banda Bahadur's Real Politics, Kurukshetra University, 
Research Journal (Art and Humanities), Vol. XI, 1977, pp. 105-12. 

9. Gopal Singh, A History of the Sikh People, 1469-1988, p. 320. 

10. Narang, G.C., Transformation of Sikhism, 1956, p. 99. 

11. Seetal Sohan Singh, Rise of Sikh Power in the Punjab, 1982, p. 18. 

12. Satbir Singh, Sada Itihas, 1994, Vol. 2, p. 14. 

13. Chhabra, G.S., Advanced History of the Punjab, 1971, Vol. 1, p. 325. 

14. James Browne, History of the Rise and Progress of the Sikhs, 1788, p. 9. 

He says that Banda Singh was the native of a village called Pundary in the Doaba 
Bist Jullundur of the Punjab. 

William Irvine, Later Mughals, Vol. 1, p. 93 quotes Kanwar Khan and Yahya Khan, 
who are of the opinion that Banda was a native of village Pandor in the Baith 
Jullundur Doab. 

Hari Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs, Vol. 2, pp. 2-4. He advanced arguments to 
show that Banda Bahadur belonged to Sirmaur state, now a district headquarter 
in Himachal Pradesh. 

H.A. Rose, A Glossary of Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier 
Province, Vol. I, pp. 698-722. He believed that Banda Singh was a Punjabi Khatri 
from Sialkot district. 

K.C. Yadav, Haryana: History and Culture (Hindi), Vol. 1, Delhi, 1992, p. 334, says 
that Banda Singh was native of some place in Haryana. 

15. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 1. 

16. Ibid. 

17. But Banda Singh Bahadur was not illiterate. He was a self-educated man. It is 
recorded that Aughar Nath, whom Banda Singh had served sincerely at Nasik, 
had given him a book of Charms called Sidh Anunia that was nothing but a book 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


of tantras. It was a very valuable Yogic Granth, compiled by a disciple of Guru 
Gorakh Nath, which was said to be in Sanskrit. So this required a considerable 
knowledge of Sanskrit for understanding. This shows that Banda Singh knew 
Sanskrit well. According to Swami Saraswati, "Banda knew Persian and Arabic 
also. He had also read the Koran." See Saraswati B,, Banda Singh Bahadur, Raisi 
(1944), p. 23. 

18. Some writers have given him another alias, "Narain Dass", and remember him by 
this name up to his admission into the Sikh faith. 

19. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 4. 

20. Bhangu, Rattan Singh, Prachin Panth Prakash, p. 76. Ibbetson, Maclagan and 
others, A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and N.W.F.P, p. 698. 

21. Previously it was a part of the Hyderabad state, now forms a part of 

22. Here now stands a famous Gurudwara, known as GurudWara Banda Ghat, which 
is at a distance of 3 furlongs from the Gurudwara Langar Sahib towards the west. 

23. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 6. 

24. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 1. 

25. Ibid., p. 11. Khazan Singh, History and Philosophy of the Sikh Religion, Part I, p. 205, 
Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Prakash, p. 78. 

26. A similar view is also expressed by Sohan Singh, the author of Banda the Brave, 
p. 17. 

27. Seetal, Sohan Singh, op. cit., p. 23. 

28. Macauliffe, M.A., op. cit., pp. 27-28. 

29. S. Karam Singh, Banda Bahadur, pp. 27-28. Daulat Rai, Janam Sakhi Sri Guru Gobind 
Singh ji Maharaj. Sir Denzil Ibbetson, A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab 
and N.W.F.P., Vol. I, p. 698. Khazan Singh, History and Philosophy of the Sikh 
Religion, p. 207. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 4-6. 

30. Dr. Ganda Singh is of the opinion that Banda Singh was baptised by the Guru 
himself. He opines that "Baptism was a must and a routine of life for Kesadhari 
Sikhs". Dr. Ganda Singh has made this conclusion after consulting the 
contemporary and near contemporary Persian sources. Dr. Ganda Singh has 
refuted the contention of the historians (those expressed the view that Banda 
Singh was not baptised) that Banda Singh was not a baptised Sikh, on the basis 
of contemporary records. Karam Singh's statement that though Banda Singh had 
come within the fold of Sikhism, he had no time to take amrit, does not hold 
ground in view of the fact that Banda Singh was with Guru for many days. Dr. 
Ganda Singh says: "Sardar Karam Singh's Jiwan Britant Baba Banda Singh 
Bahadur" was published in 1907. Research on Indian history was then yet in its 
infancy, (see, Ganda Singh, Punjab Past and Present, October 1988, p. 118) and it 
seems that he arrived at the conclusion because the relevant records were not 
available to him. Bhai Santokh Singh opined that Banda Singh was not baptised 
because he started his own sect. He did not mention that Banda Singh had taken 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

the baptism from Guru Gobind Singh. He further writes that Khalsa Panth did not 
stand by him as he started his own sect, (see G.P.S.P., Vol. XIV (ed.) Bhai Vir 
Singh, 1965, p. 6246). But there is no historical truth that Banda Singh had started 
his own sect. If Banda Singh had done so, none of the eight hundred Sikhs who 
were with him would have sacrificed their lives. Although Bhai Rattan Singh 
Bhangu had not clearly mentioned that Banda Singh had taken the Pahul from 
Guru Gobind Singh, but there are instances in his Panth Prakash that Banda 
became the Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh. He writes that Guru Gobind Singh made 
Banda Singh a member of Khalsa brotherhood (see Bhai Rattan Singh Bhangu, 
S.G.P.P. (ed.) Jit Singh Seetal, S.G.P.C., Amritsar, 1984, pp. 126-29). So it seems that 
Banda Singh was a baptised Sikh of the Tenth Master. Banda Singh converted 
some prominent Muslims like Mir-Nasir-ud-din and Dindar Khan to Sikhism and 
gave them new names of Mir Nasir Singh and Dindar Singh. And only a baptised 
Sikh has the authority to baptise others. 

Dr. H.R. Gupta is of the opinion that if Banda Singh was baptised, he would not 
have changed the Guru's salutation of "Wah Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wah Guru Ji Ki 
Fateh" to "Fateh Darshan". In this connection it may be mentioned that Banda 
Singh never used the term "Fateh Darshan" against "Wah Guru Ji Ka Khalsa". Dr. 
Ganda Singh writes that Khalsa had rejected "Fateh Darshan" because they feared 
that it might be used in place of "Wah Guru Ji Ka Khalsa" and Banda Singh 
accepted it. Banda Singh definitely abandoned it after it was rejected by the 
Khalsa. After a careful and critical study of the various contemporary and semi- 
contemporary sources, one may agree that Banda Singh was baptised by Guru 
Gobind Singh himself. Dr. Ganda Singh maintains that Banda Singh had become 
a full-fledged Sikh, a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh and a member of the Khalsa 
brotherhood. (Ganda Singh, Ibid, p. 118). M. Gregor has also written that Banda 
Singh was a baptised Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh, received the Pahooldee (Pahul) 
and became a Sikh. History of the Sikhs. Further, we may say that it was impossible 
to become the fathedar of the Khalsa without being baptised. Baba Sardul Singh, 
a descendant of Banda Singh, is also of the opinion that Banda Singh had taken 
the Pahul from Guru Gobind Singh himself. He says: "Our ancestor Baba Banda 
Singh, popularly known as Banda Bahadur, was regularly baptised as a Singh, 
having received amrit in Nanded in 1705 B.K. from the holy hands of Guru 
Gobind Singh Sahib" (P.P.P. Ibid., p. 139). So Banda Singh was a baptised Sikh of 
Guru Gobind Singh and there is no doubt about it. 

Extract from a statement of Baba Sardul Singh of Dera Baba Banda Singh: 

Dera Baba Banda Singh Sahib, 
Post-office Raisi, Jarnmu State, 
Dated, 19th Magh, 1891 Bikrami. 

"Our ancestor Baba Banda Singh, famous as Banda Bahadur became a Sikh after 
taking amrit at the hands of Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded in 1765 Bikrami and 
thus left the Bairagi sect and became the follower of Guru Sahib. After him, his 
successors became the followers of Guru Sahiban and are so even today. 

Sahib Banda Singh Bahadur came to the Punjab on the orders of Guru Gobind 
Singh and sacrificed his life in carrying out his orders. 

During his service, he never claimed himself as the successor of Guru Gobind 
Singh, and even today his successors are known as Babas. 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


There was never any dispute between Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and the Khalsa 
nor did the Khalsa leave him. Instead, up to the last, about 800 Sikhs remained 
with him and laid down their lives at Delhi and none of them deserted the Sikh 
Panth to save his life. 

After Baba Banda Singh's demise, whatever conflict arose between Tat Khalsa and 
Bandae Khalsa, had no connection with the personality of Baba Sahib. . . " 

Signed Baba Sardul Singh Sodhi 
Gaddi Nashin 
Dera Baba Banda Singh Sahib 
Dated 19 Magh, 1891 Bikrami 
I February, 1935 

31. Ahmad Shah Batalia, Zikre Gurnan Wa Ibtada-i-Singhan iva Mazhab-i-Eshan, p. 11. 
Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Ibrat Natna, p. 39, Kanhaiya Lai, Tarikh-i-Punjab, p. 56. M. 
Gregor W.L., History of the Sikhs, p. 106, Muhammad Latif, History of the Punjab, 
p. 294. Panye, C.H., A Short History of the Sikhs, p. 43. Macauliffe, M.A., op. cit., 
p. 239. Also see, Ghulam Hussain Khan, Browne Jas, Forster George, Iraeat Khan, 
Lovett S.V., San Sakhi, Sardha Ram, Veni Prasad, Shri Ram Briksha Sharma. Works 
of Harisi, Kannwar, Qasim, Malcolm, Gyan Singh, Radha Mohan Gokulji, Shri 
Surendra Sharma, etc. 

32. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 18. 

33. Raj Pal Singh, Banda Bahadur And His Times, 1998, New Delhi. 

34. He was a spy of Wazir Khan and later on of Emperor Bahadur Shah as well. See 
Jodh Singh, Sri Kalgidhar Hulas, p. 270. 

35. Banda Singh was one of the most unforgettable characters in medieval Indian 
history whose role has not yet been put in right perspective before the readers. 
He was neither a "Guru" nor a sectarian pigmy as some scholars had tried to 
paint him to be. Rather, the leadership of the Sikhs in their fight against the 
tyrannical Mughal officers of the Subas of Delhi and Lahore, after the 
assassination of Guru Gobind Singh, was assumed by him at the behest of the 
Tenth Guru as commander of the Khalsa and he lived and died for it. 

Dr. Ganda Singh has come to the conclusion that Banda Singh never became 
Guru after Guru Gobind Singh and he never sat on Gur Gaddi at Amritsar (Ganda 
Singh, p.p.p., p. 17). Kanhaiya Lai is of the opinion that Banda Singh tried to 
occupy the Gur Gaddi at Amritsar. (Tarikh-i-Panjab, Jit Singh Sital, Patiala, 1968, p. 
53). Dr. Ganda Singh does not find any truth in the viewpoint that Guru Gobind 
Singh had nominated Banda Singh as a Guru of the Sikhs. Banda Singh had never 
mentioned himself as Guru in his Hukamnamas. Ganda Singh (ed.) Hukamnama, 
Patiala, 1985 (Hukamnama of Banda Singh Bahadur dated December 12, 1710 A:D., 
p. 185). Moreover, Banda Singh after the conquest of Sarhind, issued an official 
seal and coins in the names of Gurus and not in his own name. Bhai Santokh 
Singh writes that Guru Gobind Singh nominated Banda Singh as the Jathedar of 
Khalsa and not the Guru of the Sikhs. Banda Singh was simply a Karinda (political 
leader of Khalsa). (Bhai Santokh Singh, op. cit:> p. 6243.) 

After a careful analysis of the various sources one cannot agree with Latif that 
Banda Singh assumed the title of Guru. [History of the Panjab, 1964, p. 274). It 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

seems that Muslim historians did not understand the nature and personality of 
Banda Singh. To refute the above allegation, Dr. Ganda Singh says that Banda 
Singh was simply a disciple and not a Guru, because Guru Gobind Singh 
entrusted the guruship in Guru Granth Sahib. So there is no scope for anyone to 
become the Guru after Guru Gobind Singh. Nowhere in his documents is he 
mentioned as Guru like the earlier and later pretenders. 

36. Ganda Singh, op. tit., p. 20. 

37. Ibid. 

38. Dr. Gopal Singh in his book A History Of The Sildi People in its footnotes on 
page 322 writes that Sahib Kaur accompanied Banda Bahadur up to Delhi and 
lived there for quite some time. But Dr. Gopal Singh has not given his source of 
information. According to Santokh Singh, writer of Suraj Prakash, when Guru 
Gobind Singhji realized that he would not survive very long he instructed Mata 
Sahib Deva not to immolate herself on the funeral pyre, but go to Delhi with Bhai 
Mani Singh where Mata Sundari was staying, and obeying Guru Gobind Singh 
she came to Delhi with Bhai Mani Singh separately not with Banda Bahadur. 

39. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 22. 

The mission of Banda Singh has been generally misunderstood by historians. He 
is represented to have been commissioned by Guru Gobind Singh to avenge the 
murder of his sons, just as the Guru himself is said to have prompted in his early 
days by the desire to revenge the death of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur. There 
is nothing in the whole history to warrant this conclusion. The Guru never led 
any offensive expedition against Aurangzeb or any of his local deputies. In all his 
wars, either against the Rajas of the Sivaliks or against the Mughal officers, 
whether at Bhangani, Anandpur, Chamkaur or any other place, we always find 
him on the defensive, taking to the sword as the last resort, in self-defence and 
for self-preservation. A person of revengeful spirit cannot be expected to render 
timely help to his bitterest enemies or to the heir-apparent of his father's 
murderer. He was for above these personal animosities. Those who are 
acquainted with the tenets of Sikhism, the writings of the Guru and the various 
events of his life, cannot believe that he could ever have thought of asking any 
one to avenge the murder of his own sons. Had it been so, Banda Singh's work 
should have been finished after the defeat and death of Wazir Khan and the sack 
of Sarhind and he should have led no expeditions against the rulers of 
Saharanpur, Nanauta and Jalalabad, the Ram Rayias of Ghudani, and the Faujdar 
of Batala and Sultanpur. Banda Singh was thus inspired not with the spirit of 
revenge, but with the mission of continuing a holy war against the tyrants. His 
mission seems to have become to extirpate the tyrants and establish perhaps a 
Sikh Raj in their place (see Ganda Singh, op. cit.). 

40. Gupta, H.R., History of the Sikhs, Vol. II, p. 7. 

41. Ibid. 

42. Ibid. 

43. Every Sikh is enjoined to set apart one-tenth of his income for religious purposes. 
This is called Daswandh. In the time of the Gurus this was very strictly observed 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


and the amount was regularly remitted to the Guru's treasury direct or through 
accredited masands. 

44. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 23. 

45. Just as "the beat of drum" is used to attract the attention of people, a scarf was 
also waived by a person who went from place to place to announce a 
proclamation. The "waiving of a scraf" was called Pallu Pherna. 

46. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 26. 

47. Ibid., p. 26. 

48. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 8. Gopal Singh, op. cit., p. 322. 

49. Ganda Singh, op. cit., pp. 26-27. 

50. Khafi Khan, Muntakhib-ul-Lubab, 1874, Vol. II, p. 652. Quoted by Raj Pal Singh, 
op. cit., p. 17. 

51. Prachin Panth Prakash, pp. 98-102. 

52. Narang, G.C., Transformation of Sikhism, pp. 100-101. 

53. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 102-7. 

54. Narang, G.C., op. cit., p. 138. 

55. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 104. 

56. Raj Pal Singh, Banda Bahadur And His Times, p. 17. 

57. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 9. 

58. Giani Gian Singh, Panth Prakash, pp. 350-51. 

59. Prachin Panth Prakash, p. 102. Also see Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 34. 

60. Narang, G.C., Transformation of Sikhism, p. 106. 

61. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 9. 

62. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 38. 

63. Mirza Muhammad Harisi, Ibrat Namah, p. 40. Quoted by Ganda Singh, Ibid., p. 41. 

64. Ibid., p. 43. 

65. Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 20. 

66. Macauliffe, V., pp. 247-48. Latif, History of the Punjab, p. 274. 

67. Gopal Singh, A History of the Sikh People, p. 339. 

68. Khafi Khan, Muntakhib-ul-Lubab, p. 11, 653, Elliot, History of India, Vol. VII, p. 414. 
Quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 50. 

69. Ganda Singh and Teja Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs, p. 83. Wazir Khan's force, 
combined with those of his collaborators from Hissar and its neighbourhood and 
of Lahore, Eminabad, etc. could not have been less than 20,000. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

70. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 53. 

71. Ibid. 

72. He joined Banda Singh Bahadur after abandoning the service of the Nawab of 
Sarhind (Wazir Khan). 

73. Sohan Singh records this date as 30th May 1710 A.D. Dr. Raj Pal Singh, Dr. Gopal 
Singh, Dr. Hari Ram Gupta, Dr. G.S. Chhabra, record the date as May 12, 1710, 
A.D. Dr. Ganda Singh and Dr. Gokul Chand Narang records May 30th, 1710, A.D. 
Dr. G.S. Deol has not recorded any date. But none of the above historians, cited 
their source. To the author of the present work, May 12, 1710, A.D. appealed the 

74. According to Prachin Panth Prakash, p. 110, Sham Singh also accompanied Baj 
Singh. Also compare Panth Prakash, p. 306 and Tawarikh Guru Khalsa, II, p. 8. 

75. See Dr. Ganda Singh, p. 54. 

76. William Irvine, Later Mughals, Vol. I, pp. 95-96. 

77. Macauliffe, M.A., The Sikh Religion, Its Gurus, Sacred Writings And Authors, Vol. V, 
p. 248. 

78. Santokh Singh, Suraj Prakash, p. 62. 

79. Karam Singh, Banda Bahadur (1907), p. 72. 

80. Sohan Singh, Banda the Brave, pp. 84-85. 

81. Khafi Khan, II, p. 653, Elliot, VII, 414. Irvine I, p. 96. 

82. Ganda Singh, Makhiz-e-Twarikh-e-Sikhan, I, p. 85. 

83. History of the Punjab, op. cit., p. 274. 

84. Kanhiyalal, Tarikh-e-Panjab, p. 59, as quoted by H.R. Gupta, op. cit., p. 13. 

85. Macauliffe, op. cit., p. 248. 

86. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., pp. 13-14. 

87. Yar Muhammad, Dastur-ul-Insha, quoted by Karam Singh, p. 46. 

88. See, Gupta, H.R., op. cit., p. 14. 

89. Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 56. 

90. Muhammad Qasim, Ibrat Namah, pp. 20-21. Quoted by Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., 
p. 57. 

These punishments were not inflicted upon them because of their being the 
followers of the Prophet Muhammad Sahib but because of their political 
persecution of the innocent and religious intolerance towards their poor and 
helpless subjects. Even the Hindus who were guilty of these offences were not 

91. A Shahid Ganj now stands on the site where they were cremated. 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur 


92. Ibrat Natnah, op. cit., p. 21. Quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 58. 

93. See Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 58. 

Also see S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 8. He writes: It is wrong to say that the Sikhs took 
Sucha Nand and "made him walk with a thread in his nose through the bazaars 
of Sarhind, after which he met his miserable, disgraceful and ignominious 
death." According to Akhbarat he had escaped prior to the fall of Sarhind to 
Lahore and was very much alive and present in the court of Emperor on March 
20, 1711, A.D. 

94. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 60. 

95. Gandhi, S.S., op. cit., p. 7. 

96. Akhbarat, dated May 14, 1710, Quoted by Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., pp. 22-24. 

97. Yar Muhammad, Dastur-ul-Insha, p. 159, quoted by Karam Singh, op. cit., p. 37. 

98. Dr. Hari Ram Gupta noted the figure 52 lakhs, op. cit., p. 14. 

99. Ibrat Namah, p. 21. Ganesh Dass, Chahar Gidshan-i-Punjab, 189, G.C. Narang, 
Transformation of Sikhism, p. 107. Quoted by Dr. Ganda Singh, p. 61. 

100. Narang, G.C., op. cit., p. 141. 

101. Prachin Panth Prakash, p. 114. 

102. Ibid. 

103. Inayat Ali Khan, Description of the Principal Kotla Afghans, p. 14, quoted by Ganda 
Singh, op. cit., p. 64. 

104. Ibid. 

105. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 65. 

106. Inayat Ali Khan, op. cit., pp. 13-14. 

The account of the plunder of Maler Kotla in the Prachin Panth Prakash, p. 115-16, 
VII, XI, is not supported by any historical evidence. There is not even a passing 
reference to it in Inayat Ali Khan's Description of the Principal Kotla Afghans. The 
exhumation and cremation of the body of Bibi Anup Kaur have either been 
misunderstood or misrepresented by the imperial news writers and others and 
have laid the foundation for the erroneous statements of Khafi Khan and Sayyed 
Muhammad Latif. See Muntakhib-id-Lubab, p. 11, 654. Elliot, op. cit., VII, 415, 
Muhammad Latif, History of the Punjab, pp. 274-75. 


Sohan Singh puts this figure at 5000, whereas Khazan Singh puts it at 10,000.. 


Establishment of Sikh State 

Banda Singh was the first Sikh leader who laid the foundation of 
political sovereignty of the Sikhs. He made Sikhism popular with the 
people of Punjab, not by force or persuasion, but by his bravery and 
generosity. In about a year, more than one lakh persons embraced 
Sikhism and became the Khalsa of Guru Gobind Singh, says Dr. Hari Ram 
Gupta. 1 Those who had not heard the names of the Gurus, were attracted 
towards Sikhism by Banda Singh's victories. Banda Singh had shown 
what self-government meant. Even afterwords, the lesson was not lost 
on the Sikhs. He had brought about a revolution in the minds of the 
people. A will was created in the masses. Heads could be cut off, but the 
ideas remained, leading ultimately to success. 

Banda Singh aimed at national awakening and liberation of the 
country from the oppressive government of the Mughals. Guru 
Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh had transformed the Sikhs from a 
peaceful people into a class of warriors. They never took any offensive 
and fought only defensive battles against the government. They did not 
acquire territory, did not take prisoners, and did not seize enemy's 
property and wealth and obeyed the government. But the seeds of 
sovereignty were sown and they germinated during the time of Banda 
Singh Bahadur. According to Banda Singh, the spirit of mercy, 
compassion, sympathy, tenderness, forbearance and their forgiving 
mood inculcated among the Indians by religion, had been responsible for 

Establishment of Sikh State 


the slavery of the Hindus by people from the north-west. Banda Singh 
showed them that the only way to meet the foe was to adopt the policy 
of paying them in their own coin, a tooth for a tooth, and an eye for an 
eye, and to settle old scores. The Sikhs learnt this lesson from Banda 
Singh and admirably succeeded in establishing their own rule in their 
homeland. 2 Banda Singh always took the offensive, he fought battles, 
took prisoners, seized the enemy's property and lands, and set up an 
alternative government. He issued his own coins, had his own official 
seals and gave orders which had the power of firmans of the Mughal 
Emperor. Like the year of accession of the Mughals, Banda Singh also 
introduced his own sammat or the year commencing with his victory at 
Sarhind. All this was obviously an open demonstration of equality with 
the Mughals, guided by the explicit object of infusing in the minds of the 
Sikhs a spirit of equality with the rulers and to impress upon them that 
they were in no way inferior to them. Banda Singh did not want merely 
to weaken the Mughal power, but to destroy it root and branch, and to 
establish in its place national rule or self-government. 

After the conquest of Sarhind and the surrounding territories, the 
problem before Banda Singh was the choice of a place for his 
headquarter (not the capital of the state) which should be strong, 
protective, invincible and away from the enemies. The choice fell on the 
fort of Mukhlispur. Banda Singh fixed the fort as a base depot for his 
future military operations. Mukhlispur had been occupied by him with 
the conquest of Sadhaura. The fort of Mukhlispur was built by one 
Mukhlis Khan under instructions from Emperor Shah Jahan who 
occasionally spent his summers there. 3 The fort was in a most neglected 
condition when Banda Singh occupied it. It was soon repaired and was 
given the new name of Lohgarh, or Iron Fort. All the treasures of 
Sarhind, the booty of various expeditions, and the tribute and revenue 
from the conquered territories were brought here. The Sikhs from all 
over the country, trans and cis-Sutlej, now flocked to his standard in 
much larger numbers and swelled the ranks of his volunteer-soldiers, 
some dedicated to the noble cause of the holy war, while others attracted 
by the prospect of wealth and position under the rapidly rising power of 
their co-religionists. 4 The choice of Lohgarh was ideal because the place 
was situated on the top of a hill among the steeps of the lower 
Himalayas, approachable only through craggy rocks and rivulets. He 
had friendly relations with the ruler of Nahan, Nahan was in the rear of 
Mukhlispur. Thus, the place chosen by Banda Singh Bahadur for his 
headquarter was ideal from the strategic point of view also. The location 
of the fort seems to have been determined not only by the strength of the 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

place, of which there is no doubt, but also by his desire to consolidate the 
conquests made hitherto. 5 It was also taken as a firm base for future 
expeditions. As such, the war materials also got stored here. According 
to Khazan Singh, Banda Singh fortified and provided it (Lohgarh) with 
immense stores of war. 6 

Surinder Singh in his paper published in Oriental Numismatic Studies 
entitled "Initial Sikh Coinage", says that Sarhind, the largest town, was 
considered too accursed by Sikhs and was treated only as a base depot 
for its supplies. Dr. Ganda Singh, on the other hand, says that originally 
Banda Singh's choice of a capital fell upon the town of Sarhind and, 
apparently, it was with this object in view that he had spared it from 
complete destruction. But being situated in the plains and on the Grand 
Trunk Road, it was not considered safe from the attacks of the imperial 
forces who might at any time attempt to regain their lost power. 7 
Sadhaura fort was strengthened with an extra wall and a moat, and the 
Lohgarh fortress (the entire area covered with water streams and forests) 
was also strengthened. Lohgarh is located at a straight mountain cliff 
about 700 ft above the ground on the border of a thick, extensive jungle 
area (which even after three centuries is a reserved forest with virtually 
no habitation). Banda Singh Bahadur successfully used Lohgarh as a 
tactical retreat or rearguard action stage, when his forces could not 
withhold the onslaught of Mughal armies at Sadhaura. When the 
combined Mughal forces, along with Rajputs and Jats, heavily 
outnumbered his forces and further fighting was suicidal, he would 
suddenly withdraw his forces to Lohgarh and after a day's rearguard 
action to stall the enemy forces, would escape into the forests beyond 
Lohgarh along with his forces. This tactics was successfully utilised in 
both the battles of Lohgarh in 1710 A.D. and 1713 A.D. The ground 
conditions of Lohgarh clearly establish the above position. The last few 
kilometres do not have even a cart road to the fortress and the 
surrounding area is totally unsuited for habitation. There are remains of 
fortifications for rearguard action all round the fortress to stall advance 
by enemy suicide squads. 8 

Eminent historians of Punjab, Dr. Ganda Singh, Dr. G.S. Deol, 
Dr. Rajpal Singh, Karam Singh, Sohan Singh, Hari Ram Gupta, 
Dr. Gopal Singh and Gurbux Singh have stated that Banda Singh 
Bahadur established his capital at Lohgarh, which does not seem to be 
based on any concrete evidence says Dr. Surinder Singh, but merely on 
historical hearsay, as the small fortress covering a few acres could not 
accommodate a state capital, however small the state might be. The basic 

Establishment of Sikh State 


needs of a capital — its central location, easy accessability and sufficient 
area for habitation, etc. — are totally wanting at Lohgarh site, and the 
examination of the area clearly establishes that the capital of the Sikh 
state could not have been Lohgarh. In fact, one is inclined to believe that 
the Sikhs never got sufficient time to set up a state capital and all their 
time was spent in the attempt to retain their acquired territories. 

Historians and biographers of Banda Singh Bahadur have called him 
the successor of Guru Gobind Singh, Sacha Padshah, etc., some others 
have called him false Guru. 9 But most of them state that he took on regal 
authority. Khushwant Singh calls him an Emperor, 10 Ganda Singh calls 
him a king except in name, 11 based on the prevailing medieval concept 
of kingship and the absolute hold of the ruler over his subjects. This has 
not been true of the Sikh organisation. The spirit of democracy led deep 
into the very foundations of the Sikh society by their Gurus and the 
spirit of collective leadership bequeathed to the Khalsa by the tenth Guru 
was too strong amongst the Sikhs that any single person could not think 
of abrogating it to himself, much less of assuming it. This was equally 
true even after half a century when the Sikhs occupied Lahore in 1765 
under the leadership of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, who had successfully led 
the Sikh forces for over a quarter century. Banda Singh Bahadur was the 
first amongst equals but was certainly not the absolute ruler or leader in 
contemporary sense. He had not only been giving due consideration to 
the opinion of senior Sikhs who came from Nanded, he also gave them 
all the senior commands and governorship of territories. There are 
instances of the Khalsa over-ruling Banda Bahadur and his acceptance of 
their verdict. For example, when the question arose about the 
introduction of a new war-cry Fateh Darshan, and that as it came to be 
used for and to replace the old Sikh salutation — Wahiguru ji ka Khalsa, 
Wahiguru ji ki Fateh — it was rejected by the Khalsa and Banda Singh 
Bahadur bowed his head before the collective decision of the Khalsa. This 
is further established by the fact that all the symbols of sovereignty were 
in the name of the state and Sikh Gurus, and no epithet, however minor, 
was adopted for himself by Banda Singh Bahadur. He always preferred 
to be called Banda or servant of the Guru, by the Khalsa. 12 

Contemporary historians and news-writers have mentioned the 
striking of Sikh coins with the establishment of the first Sikh state after 
the fall of Sarhind in 1710 A.D. to the Sikh forces under the leadership 
of Banda Singh Bahadur, the commander of the Khalsa army, so chosen 
by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, shortly before his demise at 
Nanded (Deccan) in 1708 A.D. For a long time these historical accounts 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

either remained unnoticed or were not given credibility by historians or 
numismatists, presumably on account of non-availability of any such 
coins. But from 1967 13 onwards a couple of such coins have been found 
and it appears logical that initial Sikh coinage was struck during 1710- 
12 A.D., with the formation of the Sikh state over the province of Sarhind 
and surrounding territories under Sikh occupation. The first account of 
Sikh coins occurs in the news-writers' account of January 1710 A.D. in 
'Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Ma'ulla' u William Irvine in The Later Mughals, has 
given an account of the Sikhs. He states: "At Lohgarh, Banda Bahadur 
tried to assume something of a regal state. He was Sacha Padshah, the 
veritable sovereign ... a coin was struck in the new sovereign's name." 
William Irvine is wrong here, as the coin had been obviously struck in 
the name of the Gurus and not Banda Singh Bahadur, which is clear from 
the legend it bore as under: 

Obverse : Sikhah Zad bar har do alam, Tegh Nanak Wahib ast, Fateh 
Gobind Shah-i-Shahan, fazal Sachcha Sahib ast. 

Reverse : Zarb aman-al-dahar, masavarat Shahr Zinat altakht 
mubarak bakut. 

Meaning: "Fateh Gobind, king of kings, struck coins in the two 
worlds, the sword of Nanak is the granter of desires, by 
grace of God he is the veritable Lord. Coined at refuge of 
the world the walled city, ornament of the fortunate 
throne. 15 

There are, however, no footnotes, etc. giving the primary or 
contemporary accounts from which William Irvine took the above 
legends. Otherwise, William Irvine is known for his giving copious 
references from manuscripts, etc., of which he had a very large collection, 
for the authenticity of the factual portion of his accounts. William Irvine, 
however, appears to have taken the material on coins from an 
"anonymous fragment of a manuscript folio no. 141 (his own 
collection)". This was a part of the Mohammad Ihsan Ijad's 16 manuscript 
of which another fragment is in the British Museum library. 17 

Karam Singh was a very conscientious scholar well-conversant with 
Persian language. He wrote his first book on Banda Singh Bahadur in 
1907 A.D., 18 in which there is no mention of coins having been struck by 
the Sikhs, nor is there any reference to Farrukh Siyar Nama by Ihsan Ijad 
in the bibliographical notes. In his second book Banda Kaun Si, he has 

Establishment of Sikh State 


mentioned in detail about Shahnama by Ihsan Ijad and the special 
features of his work in his bibliographical notes. 19 Based on Ijad's 
authority he had recorded the striking of coins by Banda Singh Bahadur 
and the obverse legend thereon. 20 Karam Singh has also given a second 
reference Hadiqat-ul-Aqalim for these Sikh coins. 21 This part of Karam 
Singh's statement is incorrect as the legend mentioned therein is a 
different one. The legend mentioned by Karam Singh is exactly the same 
as given by William Irvine and so it established the impression that both 
these scholars took the above legends from the account of Ihsan Ijad. The 
legend mentioned by Ganda Singh is also the same as that of William 
Irvine except that he has inserted the word Singh after Gobind. 22 Ganda 
Singh has made a slightly different rendering of the Persian legend in 
English. In fact, he has changed his rendering in his next writing on 
Banda Bahadur. However, the Roman English rendering of the legend is 
exactly the same as by William Irvine and some minor mistakes 
committed by him, are repeated by Ganda Singh, viz., the word "al" 
between "aman" and "dahar" and before "takht" has been written as 
"ud". Ganda Singh has profusely quoted Persian extracts and references 
but has not given any source reference on the coin and its legends. It is 
quite likely that Ganda Singh took the legends from William Irvine and 
Karam Singh. Hari Ram Gupta, in his History of Sikhs, has simply stated 
that Banda Singh Bahadur struck coins and issued orders under his own 
seal, 23 without giving any source reference for the same, although he has 
otherwise been as meticulous as William Irvine in giving references and 
footnotes. G.S. Deol, has mentioned about the coin and its legend 
acknowledging the same having been taken from Ganda Singh's 
account. 24 Giani Gian Singh in his book Guru Khalsa has given a fairly 
detailed account of Banda Singh Bahadur, but there is no mention about 
the coin or its legends 25 Khushwant Singh in his book recorded he had 
also "new coins struck to mark his reign bearing the names of Guru 
Nanak and Gobind" 26 The legends mentioned in footnotes are those 
mentioned by Ganda Singh without giving his source reference or 
acknowledging Ganda Singh's account. Dr. Grewal adds further 
confusion on the Sikh coinage 27 when he writes that he struck a new coin 
in the name of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. With a similar 
inscription he started using a seal on his orders (Hukamnamas). He has 
not given any contemporary historical evidence in support of his 
assertion that it was the same as on the seal and not in any way different. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

So from the above discussion, the picture that emerges is that the 
legend on the coins struck by Banda Singh Bahadur was apparently 
recorded by Ihsan Ijad in his manuscript which appeared to have been 
scrutinized by William Irvine and Karam Singh. Karam Singh carried out 
most of his research in Lahore libraries and hence Ijad's manuscript is 
likely to be available in some library in Lahore. The manuscript 
examined by William Irvine was his own copy and to which library it 
had been donated required a search in British libraries. Ganda Singh 
seems to have taken the account of legends from William Irvine's and 
Karam Singh's works. All the other modern historians took the legend 
from Ganda Singh. All this examination of the initial Sikh coinage has 
been carried out by historians without any examination of actual coins 
and hence has been based on hearsay and imagination, as no author 
seems to have actually examined the coins and thereafter recorded about 

Col. Charles Panish came across a silver rupee coin which was fairly 
true to the coin legends mentioned by William Irvine. Although there 
were certain minor variations, Panish was inclined to consider it to be 
the legendary issue of Banda Singh Bahadur. He brought the same to the 
notice of the numismatic world through an article thereon in 1967. 28 
Over a decade later, John Deyell 29 came across a somewhat similar coin 
and wrote an elaborate article on various aspects of his and Panish's coin 
in 1980. 30 John DeyelTs coin is an earlier issue than that of Panish as it 
carries the numerical 2 and the other coin carries the numerical 3. But his 
coin is not the first issue of Banda Bahadur. The prevailing practice on 
contemporary coinage had been to use the word Ahad on first issues 
instead of numeral I, and there was evidence that the Sikhs were using 
this word Ahad on their state correspondence of the first year of their 
new (Sammat era). 31 The first coin is as yet to be located along with the 
account of Ihsan Ijad for its examination and comparison with the 
historical account. 

John Deyell has stated that Ganda Singh's addition of the word Singh 
with Gobind on the obverse legend has hopelessly muddled the rhythm. 
Ganda Singh has the flair of adding Singh to the names of historic Sikh 
personalities as the same is deemed to be an inherent part of the name 
and not a surname or sub-caste. One is inclined to agree that Ganda 
Singh may have added the word Singh with Gobind without having it on 
any historical evidence, but the second coin has the word Singh added 
to "Gobind", thus establishing that the Sikhs themselves made the said 

Establishment of Sikh State 


change in 1712 A.D. assuming that the simple word "Gobind" as such 
was not in full reverence to their Guru who had made Singh an essential 
part of the Sikh names. The question as to why and how Ganda Singh 
added the word Singh becomes irrelevant due to the actual appearance 
on the third year's coin. 

Initial Sikh Coinage 

Second Year's Coin 




Third Year's Coin 




Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

The meaning of the legends, keeping in view the Sikh ethos, should 
be as under. 32 

Obverse: The coin has been struck in both the worlds herein and 
hereafter. With the guarantee of Guru Nanak's sword or 
granted by Guru Nanak under the strength of his sword. 
The victory of Guru Gobind Singh, King of Kings, has 
been achieved with the grace of Sacha Sahib, the God 
Almighty. Sikhs have always believed in God Almighty 
and taken their ten Gurus as one identity and all their 
saviours God, Nanak to Gobind Singh stand encompassed 
in the couplet. 

Reverse: "Coined at the place of peace and security, picture of a 
beautiful city, where the auspicious throne of Khalsa is 
located." 33 The word Khalsa appears on both the coins and 
whether the same was also printed on the first coin or was 
an innovation of the second year can only be ascertained 
after the first year's coin is located. 

John Deyell is right to assert with logical arguments that the Sikh 
coins need not have been minted at Lohgarh, but from the place where 
it was convenient or where the main strength of the Khalsa army was 
located. He further stated that from the elegance of his coin pertaining 
to the second year, it could be assumed that it was minted in more secure 
and peaceful circumstances than the second coin pertaining to the third 
year which is rather crude and dumpy. There is a change on the reverse 
legend of the second coin and the words aman-al-dahar have been 
changed into aman-al-din i.e., from the security of the place, it has been 
called under protection of the faith, which also, in a way, gives an 
indication to the disturbed conditions at the time of minting. This view 
gets further support from the fact that when the Sikhs had developed 
their firm hold on territories after 1765, they started giving the names of 
mint towns on the reverse of the coins. The author shares the views of 
John Deyell that Sikh coins may not have been minted from Lohgarh. 
The changes on the coins give indication of the change in political 
situation faced by the newly arisen and growing nation. The study of 
initial Sikh coinage, however, remains incomplete till the first year's coin 
and Ijad's account mentioning the said coins or any other contemporary 
historical reference are traced and ' examined by scholars and 
numismatists with the three features not known, i.e., the name of the 
ruler, place of the mint, and the year of minting. The cloud of some 

Establishment of Sikh State 


The Hukam Natnah or Letter of Banda Singh Bahadur, dated 12th Poh, Sammat 
1, about December 26th, 1710, addressed to the Sarbat Khalsa of Jaunpur. 

uncertainty will hang over these coins, whether their having been struck 
during Banda Singh Bahadur's time or in the period of some later Sikh 

The first Sikh state under Banda Singh Bahadur also had a royal 
stamp inscribed for use. It was used on Banda Singh's hukamnamahs and 
farmans or orders and letters patent. 34 This was a little smaller in size 
than a paisa, a copper coin of the British time, before 1947 and was used 
for making impressions on the orders of his government. 35 The first 
account of Sikh seal occurs in the news-writer's account of January 1710 
A.D. in "Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Ma'ulla." 36 In addition, it is learnt from a 
letter 37 of Hidayat Kesh, the chief news-writer, that Banda Bahadur's seal 
contained the following verse: 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

w w-" fmr rit ^rtf ^ f^y ^ 

>>f^T5" yg^f Ht§" cT" W 3"-— UcfH 

31 ^ UHK fiWII ^ U3H firm- 
er fiWH HHT fHUTH g » 

gyHF 313" HJf Hlf^ 1 " HQodr II 

^ fay F f??3TO" U#3FII 

HHT3" e HSOT U3 3#3TI 
fed 'if 3F 

Establishment of Sikh State 


Azmat-i-Nanak Guru ham Zahar-O-batan ast 
Padshah-i-din-O duniya aap Sachcha Sahib ast. 

The English translation of the verse is: "Inwardly and outwardly the 
greatness of Guru Nanak was established. The true Guru was the king 
of religion and the world." 38 It is further corroborated by the recording 
of the same couplet by another contemporary historian in Hadiquat-i- 
aqalim? 9 The use of this legend on the state seal is not authenticated by 
the availability of its imprint on any state document. The seal 
impressions that have been located are of: 

"Deg Tegh Fateh Nusrat Baidarang, 
Yaft Uz Nanak Guru Gobind Singh" 

Meaning, the kettle to feed the poor, sword to defend and protect the 
meek and helpless, and spontaneous victory (fateh and nusrat have the 
same meaning) received from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh. This 
legend appears as a seal imprint on hukamnamahs issued by Banda Singh 
Bahadur, such as one dated December 26, 1710, A.D. to the Sangat at 
Jaunpur, and another (undated) to Bhai Dharam Singh. 40 Half a century 
later, this legend has been profusely used by Sikhs on their coins struck 
regularly from Lahore, Amritsar, Multan, Kashmir, etc. 41 

Besides firmly establishing the position that Sikh coinage was started 
by Banda Singh Bahadur in 1710 A.D. as derived from the historical 
accounts and numismatic investigations of the coins so far located, it 
throws light on a very important feature of the Sikh concept of 
sovereignty, shortly after the demise of Guru Gobind Singh, and with the 
institution of the first Sikh state. The two legends, both on the coin and 
the seal, give a true depiction of the concept of temporal sovereignty as 
bequeathed by the tenth Guru to the Khalsa Panth. The growth of the 
community in misls, and then a strong monarchy, over a period of a 
century and a half, did in some way dilute the initial concept, but the 
symbol of sovereignty of the Khalsa so chosen remained the same till the 
very last days of the Sikh state. It is amazing that Banda Singh Bahadur, 
belonging to a different religious creed, became disciple of Guru Gobind 
Singh and, within a short period of a few months or even less, was 
selected the commander of the Khalsa army and sent to Punjab where all 
his energies and time was spent in creating and defending the infant 
Sikh state. Yet, in this short time he could understand and express the 
Sikh concept of sovereignty in such simple, lucid, and meaningful, 
words that, leave alone any change, no Sikh authority has ever suggested 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

any alteration or improvement therein. He certainly had a spectacular 
insight in the Sikh ethos and traditions, besides his being an 
extraordinary commander of forces in whose psyche the fear of death 
was totally nonexistent. 

Banda Singh put on the coins the most appropriate and elegant 
descriptive definition of the concept of Sikh sovereignty as bequeathed 
to the Khalsa Panth by its Gurus that it remained universally acceptable 
during the entire duration of the Sikh state, i.e., from 1710 A.D. to 1850 
A.D. If at all in the near or distant future the Sikhs regain their 
sovereignty, says Surinder Singh, the legends inscribed by Banda 
Bahadur are- likely to decorate the future Sikh currency as the true 
exposition of the Sikh sovereignty. 

Ganda Singh holds that Banda Singh Bahadur introduced his own 
Sammat* 2 or year commencing with his victory at Sarhind, as did the 
Mughal rulers with their years of accession. This was done by him to 
create in the minds of the Sikhs a spirit of equality with the rulers and 
to impress upon them that they were in no way inferior. 43 Banda Singh's 
swift success did not make him blind to the reality that the Mughal 
Emperor was bound to do all within his power to retrieve his lost 
territories and prestige. As a realist in politics, Banda Singh Bahadur 
took steps to evolve an alternative state. Since Guru Gobind Singh "had 
enjoined upon Banda Singh to serve the Panth and had appointed him 
commander of the Khalsa, he knew that it was not he but the collective 
Sikh community that was blessed with the sovereignty by the Sacha 
Padshah (Guru Gobind Singh)". 44 Therefore, it is wrong to suggest that 
Banda Singh had set up a monarchy and styled himself as Padshah.* 5 It 
is true that he issued his orders, coins and seals, but all this cannot be 
taken to mean that Banda Singh became a Padshah. Banda Singh was not 
an anarchist. He aimed at not only the destruction of the Mughal 
government in Punjab but also the establishment of a Sikh state. S.S. Bal 
writes: "Normally the result of the brilliant campaign of Banda Singh 
would have been the establishment of a monarchy with coins and seals 
engraved with his name, but that did not happen." 46 Emphasizing the 
distinction between the state established by Banda Singh Bahadur and 
the Mughal state of India, Ganda Singh has beautifully summed up: 
"The Mughal Emperors struck coins and engraved seals in their own 
names. Banda Singh ... on the other hand, struck his coins and engraved 
his seals in the name of Guru Nanak and! Gobind Singh. . . . His orders 
and appeals to the Sikh Sangats were issued in the name of the Guru 
(Guru Gobind Singh)." 47 The word Sri Sacha Sahib he used for the Guru 

Establishment of Sikh State 


not for himself. It was in the name of the Guru (Guru Gobind Singh) that 
he issued orders and appealed to the Khalsa to join him. The use of such 
words as "Nanak", "Gobind Singh", "Deg" and "Teg" explain that 
whatever he did was strictly in the name of the Khalsa and the authority 
which he assumed was on behalf of and in the name of the Khalsa. 

Very little is known about the constitution and administrative system 
of the government set up by Banda Singh Bahadur and his deputies. 
Perhaps he had neither the time nor the requisite experience to do so, 
and it was all a military activity. Amongst the few administrative 
measures taken by Banda Singh Bahadur was that he established Sikh 
thanas at various important towns, created subdivisions and placed them 
under charge of Sikh Sardars. 

It is also said that Banda Singh Bahadur abolished the much abused 
zamindari system!® The word zamindar in Mughal administration was 
used to denote various types of hereditary interests ranging from 
powerful, independent and autonomous chiefs to petty intermediaries at 
the village level. Zamindari as a system and institution had so much 
penetrated the Mughal administration that it could be found in the 
Khalsa as well as in the assigned lands or jagirs. Here we are concerned 
with the type of zamindars who collected the revenue from the cultivators 
or peasantry and paid it to the imperial treasury or to the jagirdars or to 
the chiefs or in certain cases, kept it for themselves. 49 Under strong 
administrators, these zamindars performed their duties according to the 
imperial regulations and exercised their rights within the specified 
limits, but under weak administrators they hardly ever hesitated to 
break the rules. In actual practice they always tried to go beyond the 
specified limits and to appropriate to themselves a greater share of the 
revenue than what they were entitled to. The frequent use of the term 
zamindar an-i-zor talab in the contemporary administrative literature 
indicated that there were quite a large number of zamindars who would 
not pay unless force was applied. These zamindars were sandwiched 
between the superior zamindars (chiefs or rulers of Indian states) and the 
state, on the one hand, and the peasantry on the other. They were 
constantly struggling to improve their position and thus came frequently 
into clash with both the sides. They always tried to shift the burden of 
revenue demands to the cultivators and thus contributed to the 
intensification of economic exploitation of the peasantry. 50 The 
authorities did not interfere in their affair^ so long as they paid land 
revenue regularly. It was perhaps this type of zamindars whom Banda 
Singh Bahadur removed from their positions and appointed his own 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

men as collectors or amils. The Sikh movement signified a protest against 
the beneficiaries of the existing structure of authority. These beneficiaries 
may be zamindars or madad-i-ma' ash grantees, 51 were corrupt and 
extortionist. The economic condition of the peasants was very miserable 
because of the highhandedness of these beneficiaries of the state. Not 
only the zamindars and Mughal amils (revenue collectors of the Mughals) 
but the madad-i-ma'ash holders were also removed from their lands, by 
the Sikhs. 52 These grantees were not suppose to pay revenue to the rulers, 
so they exploited the peasants and collected more from the peasants, 
than the assessed revenue. 53 So Banda Singh Bahadur, for the first time 
in India's memorable history, abolished the corrupt and extortionist 
intermediaries called the zamindars and the tiller of the soil heaved a big 
sigh of relief. This is the class which has been the backbone, since then, 
of all movements of religious and political freedom in Punjab. 54 

The Sikhs being mostly the cultivators themselves, the sufferers 
under this zamindari system, naturally wanted to get rid of it. So Banda 
Singh took up the question of land reforms and abolished the most hated 
system. Thus, the right to collect the revenue which had hitherto been 
under the jurisdiction of intermediaries and Mughal amils, were given to 
the lowly placed and non-descript communities who joined Banda Singh 
Bahadur. "The scavangers, the leather-dressers and the other low-born 
had only to leave their homes and join the Sikh leader when in a short 
time they would return to their birthplace as its rulers." This rulership 
implied primarily the right to collect the revenue says, Dr. Muzaffar 
Alam. 55 Even before the conquest of Sarhind, Banda Singh dislodged the 
old and corrupt intermediaries and appointed his own men for the 
collection of revenue and issued orders to Mughal officials and jagirdars 
to. submit and give up their claims to their territories (right to collect 
revenue). In 1710 A.D. when the Sikhs entered Rahon, they issued 
threatening orders to the chaudhries, muqaddams and qanungos of Rahon 
and the adjacent parganas calling upon them to surrender. 56 To 
consolidate the gains of their victory, the Sikh appointees followed batai 
system. 57 They gave two parts of the produce to the peasants and one part 
was retained by them. 58 On these conditions the peasants agreed to work 
on the land, 59 and happily extended their helping hand to Banda Singh 
Bahadur. So, on the economic plane, Banda Singh Bahadur could be 
given the credit for introducing revenue reforms in the Punjab. This was 
a remarkable contribution of Banda Singh Bahadur, which was later 
improved upon by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. 

The victory of Sarhind had been achieved as a result of the tide of 

Establishment of Sikh State 


religious zeal of his followers and political ambition of Banda Singh 
Bahadur. In order to resist future invasions by the Mughals, Banda Singh 
Bahadur could not solely rely on the meagre resources at his disposal. 
The only hope of survival lay in broadbasing the movement. Banda 
Singh could expect support generally from two sections of society, one 
consisted of the people who were opposed to Muslim bigotry, and the 
second were the peasants who were driven to despair by the extortions 
of revenue officials. Banda Singh Bahadur decided to espouse the cause 
of both these groups — Hindus and Muslims alike — and welcomed them 
in his ranks. Thus the struggle was essentially not a war of revenge as 
suggested by Gianeshwar Khurana, but was certainly a struggle for 
socio-religious liberty and economic equity. The result of this farsighted 
policy of Banda Singh Bahadur was amazing. His revolt did not remain 
a localised issue but became a widespread affair, growing into a mass 
movement. People all over the hills and the plains rose against the 
tyrants. The Hindus and the Muslims alike joined Banda Singh Bahadur 
to expel the Mughals from their regions. Banda Singh's realistic politics 
made it considerably difficult for the Mughal officials either to curtail or 
curb the rebellion easily. In addition to appointing Sikhs to important 
posts, Banda Singh Bahadur appointed Jan Muhammad, the Zamindar of 
the whole pargana of Buria (renamed by Banda Singh Bahadur after 
occupation as Gulabnagar), and his lapses were forgiven. He was 
ordered to go along with his contingent to bring Sardar Khan, the 
Zamindar of Chondla. According to Bhagwati Das Harkara's report 
submitted to the Emperor on April 28, 1711, Banda Singh Bahadur had 
given a word and expressed his resolve not to harass the Muslims. 
Therefore, all those Muslims who joined him were given daily allowance 
and wages and were properly looked after. He had permitted them to 
read Khutba and offer prayers. Thus, 5000 Muslims (living around 
Kalanaur) joined the service of the rebel Sikh leader, with freedom of ajan 
(call for prayer) and the namaz (daily prayer). These Muslims felt 
comfortable in the army of the rebels (Sikhs). 60 Banda Singh's movement 
"was a movement of the depressed classes" and as the time passed, men 
from all walks of life, all castes, creeds and religion flocked to his banner. 

With the establishment of the Sikh rule by Banda Singh Bahadur, the 
prestige of the Sikhs rose and their very name and sight became a terror 
to others. In this connection, Ganda Singh remarks: "The terror of the 
very name of the Sikhs was to completely establish that even the sight 
of a single Sikh horseman would unnerve a multitude of the erstwhile 
unbending officials and their followers. Every Sikh, whatever, station in 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

life, felt to have been providentially raised above every one of his fellow- 
subjects and destined to be a ruler." 61 

The power and prestige of Banda Singh Bahadur increased 
immensely. He commanded a large army and was looked upon by the 
Hindus as the champion of Hinduism. "Oppressed Hindus resorted to 
him for help which was willingly and efficiently given, a fact which had 
a great influence in promoting the growth of the Sikh power. The slayers 
of the kins were given no quarter and this alone was sufficient to win 
over the sympathies of the whole Hindu race." 62 Such was the awe he 
inspired throughout the occupied territory that, according to William 
Irvine, "it led to a complete and striking reversal of the previous customs 
in the caste-ridden land". "A low scavanger or a leather-dresser, the 
lowest of the low in Indian estimation, had only to leave home and join 
the Guru (i.e., Banda Singh Bahadur) when in a short time he would 
return to his birth place as its ruler with his order of appointment in his 
hand. As soon as he set foot within the boundaries, the well-born and 
wealthy went out to greet him and escort him home. Arrived there, they 
stood before him with joined palms, awaiting his orders. . . . Not a soul 
dared to disobey an order and men who had often risked themselves in 
battlefield, became so cowed down that they were afraid even to 
remonstrate. Hindus who had not joined the sect were not exempt from 
these." 63 

In fact, during the short period of the Sikh rule under the leadership 
of Banda Singh Bahadur, "the state was administrated as per the concept 
of the double sovereignty. Whatever the Sikhs demanded for themselves, 
they conceded to all people including the Muslims. It is in this 
perspective that Muslims were not maltreated at all, rather they were 
allowed to enjoy their rights and privileges as a distinctive culture- 
group, provided they shed off their concept of theo-monastic-state." 64 
Thus, Banda Singh built the structure of a secular state and government 
in the community and defended and headed it like a potentate, who 
combined the spirit, the work and the mission of a nation-builder with 
the self-denial of a saintly personage. His talent for fighting skilfully, 
tenaciously and, even brilliantly, to a victorious consummation, had won 
him a name among the Sikhs and had made him a nightmare for their 
enemies. Banda Singh Bahadur, thus, laid truly the foundation of a Sikh 
state in the country, upon which was confidently raised a superstructure 
later by his community, which culminated in the rule of Maharaja 
Ranjeet Singh, the lion of Punjab. Banda Singh's life as the captain of the 

Establishment of Sikh State 


Sikh nation's ship, though short-lived, was beyond a doubt as distinctive 
as it was distinguished. 

The Sikh rule headed by Banda Singh Bahadur heralded a new era — 
the era of the peasant, free from zamindars, egalitarianism and individual 
liberty — in the history of the Punjab in which Banda Singh Bahadur 
evolved the concept of participative leadership. Consequently, Banda 
Singh Bahadur was able to lead into the field "an army of innumerable 
men, like ants and locusts, belonging to the low castes of the Hindus and 
ready to die at his orders." 65 These adherents of Banda Singh Bahadur do 
not by any means exhaust the list of his followers who participated in his 
task of the liberation of their motherland and breaking of age-old 
shackles of economic and social inequities. 

With the establishment of the Khalsa Raj, however small in its extent, 
there was a tremendous change in the outlook of the Sikhs. They looked 
upon themselves, just as they were looked up to by the non-Muslim 
population, as "defenders of the faith and country". Every complaint 
from the oppressed people, therefore, excited them against the local 
officials and aristocrats. They considered it their religious duty to help 
their suffering brethren, and as this could only be accomplished by the 
removal of Mughal deputies, the Sikhs all over voluntarily embarked on 
a career of conquest, and set themselves the task of effecting their plans, 
of course, in their own way. There was at this time a general Sikh rising 
in the country. Their conquests were not confined to southern districts of 
Punjab only, but were carried on in the north with almost the same and 
perhaps greater zeal and vigour. 

Notes and References 

1. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. ext., p. 36. 

2. Ibid., p. 37. 

3. It was a strong hill fort about half way between the towns of Sadhaura and 
Nahan {about nine kos from Sadhaura according to Ganda Singh. Khazan Singh 
says that it was 26 miles from Sadhaura), within the boundary of the village of 
Amuwal, among the steeps of the Himalayas on an elevated summit, which could 
be approached only through craggy rocks and ravines. It was surrounded by two 
rivulets, Pamuwali and Daskawali Khols, or Khuds, which originally formed 
only one stream, parting into two to embrace the hillock of the fort. 

4. Ganda Singh, op. ext., p. 69. 

5. See Pxinjab Past and Present, October, 1917, p. 884. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

6. Khazan Singh, History and Philosophy of Sikh Religion, Part I, p. 210. 

7. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 68. 

8. Surinder Singh, Initial Sikh Coinage, p. 183 in oriental numismatic studies by 
D. Handa. 

9. 'Banda Singh always declared himself to be Banda or servant of the Guru, but 
some of his followers from amongst the Khalsa took him to be the Guru and 
followed him as such, says the author of the Risalah-i-Sahib-Nwna. There is 
nothing on record to show that he ever mentioned or described himself as a 
Guru. In his letters addressed to the Sikh Sangat (see his letter to the Sarbat-Khalsa 
of Jaunpur dated 12th Poh 25-26th December, 1710 A.D.), he used the words Sri 
Sacha Sahib, not for himself but for the Guru, in whose name he issued orders 
and appealed to the Khalsa to join "him. See Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 71. 

10. Khushwant Singh, History of the Sikhs, Vol. II, pp. 57-58. 

11. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 69. 

12. Ibid., pp. 70-71. 

13. Charles Panish, JNSI, Vol. XXIX, pt. II, 1967, pp. 88-90. The first coin pertaining 
to Banda Singh Bahadur's period was located by Charles Panish in 1967. Quoted 
by Surinder Singh, Initial Sikh Coinage, p. 183. 

14. See Surinder Singh, op. cit., p. 184 in Oriental Numismatic Studies by D. Handa. 

"The Khalsa Sikhs have strange practices amongst themselves. They call one 
person as an army. In their despatches, they write that an army of Sikhs have 
arrived. Some say they have struck coins and in their hukamnamas the year 'Ahad 
is written'. 

15. William Irvine, The Later Mughals, 1989, Delhi, p. 110. 

16. Ijad was a court chronicler who wrote Shahnama under the orders of Farrukh 
Siyar in 1131 Hijri, i.e., 1715 A.D. Some of the accounts of Banda Singh Bahadur 
written by Ijad are not available in any other Persian manuscript. 

17. Surinder Singh, op. cit., p. 185. 

18. Karam Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur (Punjabi), Chief Khalsa Diwan, Amritsar, 1907. 

19. Karam Singh, Banda Kaun Si (Punjabi) Amritsar, p. 34. 

20. Ibid., p. 35. 

21. Bid., p. 36. 

22. Ganda Singh, op. cit., pp. 69-70. 

23. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 10. 

24. G.S. Deol, Banda Bahadur, 1972, pp. 57-58. 

25. Gian Singh Giani, Guru Khalsa, Patiala, 1970. 

26. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 60. 

Establishment of Sikh State 


27. J.S. Grewal, The Cambridge History of India, II. 3. The Sikhs of Punjab, Orient 
Longman, 1990, p. 83. 

28. Charles K. Panish, "The First Sikh Trans-Sutlej Coinage", J.N.S.I., Vol. XXIX, 1967, 
pp. 88-90. Quoted by Surinder Singh, op. cit., p. 178. 

29. A scholar of numismatic of international repute and an official in Canadian High 
Commission in India. 

30. John S. Deyell, "Banda Singh Bahadur and the first Sikh coinage," Numismatic 
Digest, Vol. IV, Part I, June 1980, Bombay, pp. 59-67. Quoted by S. Surinder Singh, 
op, cit. 

31. The first account of Sikh coins occurs in the news writers account of January 1710 
A.D. in Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Ma'ulla. "Some say they have struck coins and in their 
hukamnamas the year 'Ahad' is written." 

32. Surinder Singh, op. cit., pp. 14-16. 

33. According to Dr. Ganda Singh, these were the titles and epithets used by him for 
Lohgarh, just as each imperial city had its appropriate honorific name. 

34. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 69. 

35. Sohan Singh Seetal, Rise of Sikh Power in the Punjab, p. 68. 

36. See Surinder Singh, op. cit., p. 184 in Oriental Numismalic Studies, by D. Handa. 

. . . elephants, cash and grain of Wazir Khan of Sarhind has fallen in their hands 
in large quantities. They have made their own mohar seal. 

37. Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Ma'ulla, 39, p. 40, Translated and edited version available in 
Punjab Past and Present, Vol. XVIII (II) October, 1984, Punjabi University, Patiala, 
p. 30, Hidayat Kesb, the chief news writer, presented the Emperor the following 
verse of the rebel Guru: 

"Azmat-i-Nanak Guru ham Zahar o batan ast 
Padshah-i-din-0 duniya aap Sachcha Sahib ast." 

38. Ibid., Quoted by Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 28. 

39. Hadiqat-al-Aqalim (M.S.), Muslim University, Aligarh, p. 148. 

40. Hukamnama dated December 12, 1710, and another addressed to Bhai Dharam 
Singh (undated) reproduced in Hukamname by Ganda Singh, Punjabi University, 
Patiala, 1985 pp. 92-95. 

41. Hans Herrli, Coins of the Sikhs, Indian Coin Society, Nagpur, 1993, pp. 31-33. 
Quoted by Surinder Singh, op. cit. 

42. Like the Sann-i-Jalus or the year of accession, of the Mughal Emperor. 

43. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 84. 

44. Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Parkash, 1939, p. 117. 

45. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 107, writes about Banda Bahadur as a Padshah or 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

46. S.S. Bal in the Medieval Indian State, Chandigarh, 1966, p. 124. Quoted by Raj Pal 
Singh, op. cit., p. 28. 

47. Ganda Singh, op. cit., pp. 80-85. 

48. Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., pp. 72-73. "In matters of government, he introduced one 
of the greatest fiscal reforms in the country by abolishing the zamindari system of 
the Mughals which had reduced the cultivators to the position of slaves. With the 
establishment of Banda Singh's Raj, the actual cultivators of the soil became the 
proprietors of their holdings and the oppression resulting from the old system 
was for ever eradicated from the Punjab." 

49. Day, U.N., The Mughal Government, p. 137. 

50. Ibid., p. 139. 

51. They were the holders of revenue-free land. These types of grants were given to 
the saints -or- scholars to help them. For details see Day, U.N., op. cit., pp. 143-44. 

52. Muzaffar Alam, The Crisis of Empire in Mughal North India — Awadh and the Punjab 
(1707-1748), p. 146. 

53. Day, U.N., op. cit., p. 139. 

54. Gopal Singh, op. cit., pp. 342-43. 

55. Muzaffar Alam, op. cit., p. 146. 

56. Ibid. 

57. Batai is a type of assessment in which the state claims from its representative 
directly a share in the produce of the soil. This was effected in two ways. One 
method was to send officers to visit the field with standing crop and make an 
assessment of the approximate produce and then to fix the government's share 
thereon. The other method was measuring the produce after it had been actually 
harvested and then demanding the share on the basis of the measure. 

58. Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Ma'ulla, January 1710 A.D. ". . . In the villages the produce is 
divided between them and the tillers of the land, two parts to the tiller and one 
part to them. The land has been given to the tillers. They (Sikh) want all this be 
made known to the king. . . ." 

59. The number of cultivators available for tilling the soil was much less than the 
land available for cultivation. The cultivators too were ever willing to leave their 
land on the slightest difficulty and migrate to new track where there was no 
dearth of land for them to occupy and cultivate. Since agriculture was not 
profitable and was carried out with primitive means of cultivation, mobility was 
easy and hardly caused sufficient loss so as to lure them not to abandon their 
fields for new ones. Under the circumstances, government's policy was to prevent 
the cultivator from leaving his field unless he could find a substitute to cultivate 
his land or could find a buyer who, after purchase, would cultivate it. The basic 
idea, therefore, seems to have been not to allow agricultural land to get converted 
into fallow land. 

Establishment of Sikh State 


60: Akhbarat+Darbar-i-Ma'ulla, January 9, 1711 A.D. 

61. Ganda Singh, op. ext., p. 88. 

62. Narang, Gokul Chand, op. cit., p. 103, fn. 3. 

63. William Irvine, Late Mughals, Vol. I, pp. 98-99. 

64. S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 480. 

Saiyid Ghulam Ali Khan, Imadur Saadat, p. 71. Quoted in Agrarian System of the 
Mughal India by Irfan Habib, p. 345. 

65. Khafi Khan, op. cit., p. 672, Satish Chandra, op. cit., p. 51. 


Rising of the Sikhs 


The success of Banda Singh Bahadur, "the temporal leader of the Khalsa" 
was quite swift and the conflagration had spread simultaneously 
between the Ganga and the Yamuna, and Majha and Jullundur Doab. So 
it is not possible to follow a strictly chronological order in the narration 
of events of this period and they will be dealt with one after another. 
After establishing themselves firmly at Lohgarh, Banda Singh and the 
Khalsa started invading the Mughal territories in the neighbourhood of 
Lohgarh. The Mughal officers withdrew in panic. Banda Singh Bahadur 
put his own armed posts in the villages and towns of the conquered 
areas which spread "from a few days" march from Delhi to the outskirts 
of Lahore. In this area, the Sikhs set up their own administration. They 
appointed their own thanedars and tahsildars to collect revenue". 1 
Consequently, the persons oppressed by the Mughal officers or tyrants 
from the neighbouring areas started to lodge their complaints before 
him. Encouraged by this response, Banda Singh Bahadur addressed 
himself to chastise the cruel Mughal officials of Yamuna-Ganga Doab 
region and to do justice for the downtrodden and weak. His concept of 
justice has been aptly summed up in the Prachin Pothi in Banda Singh's 
own words: "The best worship for a king is to be just", is written in the 
holy Granth. "Those who do not administer justice are caste into hell. A 
king should practise justice. Thus spoke to me the great man (Guru 

Rising of the Sikhs 


Gobind Singh). If you call yourself the Sikhs of the great man, do not 
practise sin, adharma and injustice. Rise up true Sikhs and smite those 
who do un-Sikh like deeds. Bear the sayings of the great man in your 
hearts." 2 

The news of Banda Singh Bahadur's victories and progress travelled 
far and wide. People, out of fear, started embracing Sikhism. According 
to Sohan Singh Seetal, the author of the Rise of Sikh Power in the Punjab, 
the ascendancy of the Khalsa to this power had prompted numerous 
Hindus, from far and near, to embrace Sikhism. Even some Muslims had 
preferred to be called Sikhs. Many Hindus had forcibly even atrociously 
been converted to Islam during the Mughal rule. They had not been 
reconciled to their new religion. As soon as they felt a little safe from 
Muslim oppression, they threw Islam overboard and adopted the Sikh 
creed. Hinduism did not take back any of the converts at any cost, even 
though they had been forced to leave it at the point of the sword. But the 
doors of Guru Nanak's creed were always open to welcome anybody. 
Consequently, these persecuted citizens gladly found refuge under the 
protection of the liberator of the oppressed that Guru Nanak was, and 
turned Sikhs. That was why the number of Sikhs had grown rapidly. 3 

The whole tract of Deoband — a pargana of Saharanpur — embraced 
Sikhism. Many of these converts were from the village of Unarsa. But 
this conversion became an eyesore to Jalal Khan, the Faujdar of that tract. 
So he ordered all these Sikhs to be imprisoned and persecuted. Kapoor 
Singh, who had been appointed a Sikh missionary of the Khalsa of that 
area by Banda Singh, wrote to him about the pitiable condition of the 
Sikhs there and asked for help. 4 Thus the condition of the non-Muslims 
in general and Sikhs in particular in Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar 
districts had indeed been extremely deplorable because of the tyrannical 
activities of Jalal Khan, the Hakim of Jalalabad. According to Gokul 
Chand Narang, "Banda marched eastward on receiving a complaint from 
the Hindus of Deoband who were being cruelly treated by Jalal-ud- 
din." 5 On the receipt of the complaint either by the Hindus or Sikhs or 
by both, Banda Singh Bahadur decided to extend help to the oppressed. 
But before displaying the strength of his arms, he sent his emissaries to 
the said Khan asking him to stop his . highhandedness towards them. 
However, his emissaries were ill-treated. ^ Thereupon Banda Singh 
Bahadur was left with no other choice but to lead a punitive expedition 
to check his atrocities on the innocent, hapless people. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

The Khalsa army marched upon the town of Saharanpur on their way 
to Jalalabad as Saharanpur was equally obnoxious to them as one of the 
principal strongholds of bigoted Mughal Faujdar. Ali Hamid Khan/ a 
Sayyed of Qanauj, was then the Faujdar of this place. The Sikhs 
addressed a letter to him and called upon him to submit, in which case, 
they said, he would not be molested. Instead of submitting to the Khalsa 
or asserting himself, Ali Hamid Khan Qanauji, the Faujdar of Saharanpur, 
immediately took to flight on hearing about the Sikh march in the Doab. 
The Sikhs chased him but he safely escaped to Delhi. The Sikhs crossed 
the Yamuna, captured Sarsawa and then fell on Saharanpur. Soon they 
overcame the resistance of its inhabitants. In panic many people fled 
from the town. 8 A large booty consisting of money, jewels and goods fell 
into the hands of the Sikhs. In the words of Muhammad Harisi, 9 "The 
whole country, far and near, was in panic. Those people who were rich 
enough or lucky enough to obtain means of conveyance carried off their 
goods and families. The rest taking their wives and children by hand fled 
on foot. Women who had rarely been outside the courtyard of their own 
houses, and had never gone one step outside on foot, were forced to 
walk distances of thirty and forty miles. In this way, half of the Sarkar 
of Saharanpur fell into the hands of the Sikhs." 

Beyhut, a village of the Pirzadas,™ was situated at a distance of 
seventeen miles from Saharanpur. They were very notorious for cow 
slaughter and tyrannising the poor Hindus. They plundered the property 
of the Hindus and killed cows in the streets and desecrated the Hindu 
homes of the town disdainfully. The Sikhs swooped upon Beyhut as soon 
as they came to know of these atrocities. The Pirzadas tried to oppose 
them. But that was of no avail at all. They were all put to the sword, 
except one of them who happened to have been away to Bulandshahr. 
He was the only survivor of the clan. After plundering and burning the 
mansions of the Pirzada families, the Sikhs returned to Saharanpur. 

On return of this detachment to Saharanpur, the Sikhs prepared to 
march southwards to Jalalabad, lying about thirty miles south of 
Saharanpur and about twenty miles west of Deoband. They addressed 
severe orders to Jalal Khan, the founder and Faujdar of that place, to 
release forthwith the Sikh prisoners of Unarsa and to tender his 
submission to the Sikh power. Unlike Ali Hamid Khan of Saharanpur, 
Who had fled to Delhi on receipt of the Sikh message, Jalal Khan was a 
typical Afghan "famed for his boldness and valour throughout the 
country". Jalal Khan was a Pathan of sterling courage. He had already 
taken part in many a battle successfully and creditably. He had fought 

Rising of the Sikhs 


under the command of Aurangzeb in the Deccan. He had conquered and 
destroyed the town Khera Manihar of the Rajputs, and had built on its 
ruins his present town that was called Jalalabad after his own name. He 
commanded a very powerful army of the Pathans of the Khybar Pass 
and his town and fort were both strongly built. When the letter of the 
Sikhs reached him, he ordered the Sikh messengers to be mounted on 
asses, paraded through the streets of Jalalabad, and turned out of the 
town. 11 

This provocative news made the Sikhs very indignant. They started 
for Jalalabad immediately. The town of Ambeyta fell in their way, though 
five miles aside. The majority of its population consisted of Pathan and 
Gujjar Muslims. The eminent Muslim saint, Sheikh Abb-ul-Muali, lived 
there. His followers in that area used to make offerings to this pir. The 
town was, thus, quite prosperous. The Sikhs directed their attention to 
this place first. Sheikh Abb-ul-Muali offered them no resistance. The 
Sikhs, therefore, took no life there. They had an easy access to the town 
which yielded sufficient booty to compensate them for their efforts. 12 

Next was the turn of Nanauta. Nanu Gujjar had founded this town 
in the remote past, and had given his own name to it. In course of time 
the Gujjars were thrown out by the Sayyads who now occupied the town. 
Some Pathans and Sheikhs had also settled there later. Several residents 
of the Sayyad tribe had held high positions in public life. A Sayyad of 
this town had been appointed the commander of Saharanpur during the 
reign of Aurangzeb. He had some large mansions built in Nanauta. 

When the Sikhs left Ambeyta and advanced further, a large number 
of Gujjar from Rampur turned up to join the Sikhs. They declared that 
they were the followers of Guru Nanak and that they came there to take 
part in the Sikh religious war. By this strategem they were able to secure 
the advantage of making their own town and its surrounding area safe 
from pillage. Moreover, they also became partners in the plunder of 
Nanauta. The Gujjars had some old accounts to settle with the Sayyads. 
The Sikhs entered Nanauta on July 11, 1710, A.D. The Shaikhzadas of the 
town were brave fighters and expert archars. They contested every inch 
the Sikh onslaught in their part of the town. Three hundred Shaikhzadas 
lost their lives on that day during the courageous fighting in the 
courtyard of Sheikh-Mohammad Afzal's house alone. This sharp, bloody 
contest led to an utter destruction of the town. The royal mansions of the 
Sheikhs and of the Sayyads were destroyed. The whole town was left in 
ruins. It has been called Phuta Shahr or the town in ruins, since that day. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

In this way, half of the Sarkar of Saharanpur fell into the hands of the 
Sikhs and the town was rechristened as Bhagnagar. 13 Banda Singh 
Bahadur "established his forces in the Thanas of Rampur, Nanauta, 
Jhujhana, Bakaur, Barsadau, Karana, Budhana, Kandhala. . . . The 
wayfarers and qanungo of Saharanpur had collaborated with the 
vanquished." 14 The impact of the march of Banda Singh Bahadur in the 
summer of 1710 A.D. was so great that panic spread in the Yamuna- 
Gangetic Doab. The rich fled eastwards to Oudh or northwards into the 
hills. "The sight of one Sikh lancer on horseback was enough to terrorise 
a whole village." 15 Needless to say, the Sikhs collected a large booty from 
Saharanpur, Behut, Nanauta and other surrounding villages. 

Next, Banda Singh Bahadur moved towards Jalalabad (five miles 
from Nanauta). Jalal Khan, 16 the Faujdar of Jalalabad, who received the 
information of Sikhs' advance, fortified himself by collecting men and 
ammunition. Banda Singh Bahadur sent a word to him to release the 
poor, innocent Singhs who were cruelly confined by him. But he was 
made of a little harder stuff, as Sohan Singh puts it, and wrote back in 
stronger words. Said he: "Don't hope to find in me the Nawabs of 
Sadhaura or Sarhind and if you have to fight me with that much estimate 
of strength, you are sadly mistaken. You are welcome to fight, as I am 
sure you will soon reap the result of your folly. My army consists of 
Khybri Pathans, whom the very appearance of death even cannot 
mtimidate. So bear you in mind mat you will have to face such a people 
and not the timid inhabitants of Hindustan. And the Sikhs I will not set 
free under the threat of war." 17 He made full preparations to resist the 
Sikhs. He had collected a sufficient quantity of food and war material in 
the fort. He had also called a large number of villagers to fight for him 
by the side of his regular army. The Sikhs approached Jalalabad straight 
from Nanauta. The ground between the two towns was overgrown with 
a big forest of butea frondosa trees {keysoo, dhak or plaas). As the Sikhs 
advanced half way, they saw the enemy forces waiting for them. 

Jalal Khan had despatched his nephew Hazbar Khan, and his 
brother-in-law Ghulam Mohammad Khan to go ahead and meet the 
Sikhs and drive them back. The Pathans had under them 400 cavalry 
men, 1000 foot soldiers, and 4,000-5,000 strong special militia from the 
villages, besides hordes of the Ghazis. 

The Sikhs rushed at the enemies head-long. It was a very bloody 
battle. Hazbar Khan and numerous Ghazis were killed. 18 Jamal Khan and 
Pir Khan, the nephews of Jalal Khan, waited in the wings behind, 

Rising of the Sikhs 


commanding fresh forces for the aid of the front where help was 
required. They chose their chance now and attacked the Sikhs. The 
fighting raged for three days. Then Dindar Ali Khan, the son of Jalal 
Khan, rushed to the battlefield at the head of fresh and specially selected 
seven hundred men. But before he had joined the battle, Jamal Khan and 
Pir Khan had been killed. The Sikh army had now encircled the Muslim 
defenders. Dindar Khan rushed upon the Sikhs ferociously. There were 
many casualties on both sides. Somehow, he forced his way to where the 
corpses of his brothers lay. And with the help of his men he got hold of 
the bodies of Jamal Khan, Pir Khan and other Sardars and wangled his 
way back through the Sikh encirclement. He then retreated to 
Jalalabad. 19 It was about this time that Jalal Khan reported the invasion 
of the Sikhs to Emperor Bahadur Shah. 20 

Banda Singh Bahadur and his followers besieged Jalalabad, situated 
on a high ground. A small stream, called the Krishna, flowed by it. It was 
the rainy season now and the stream was in flood. The fort and the town 
had large sheets of water standing all around it. The siege was 
maintained for about 20 days. The Sikhs failed to take the fort. Nor did 
Jalal Khan have the guts to come out, drive the Sikhs away and put an 
end to the siege. The Town was safe, but the countryside around it was 
devastated by the Sikhs. The Sikhs made repeated attempts to capture 
Jalalabad but were repulsed. According to Khazan Singh, "Banda 
applied ladders to the walls of the fort in order to get over it. Hundreds 
lost their lives in the attempts." 21 Ultimately, Banda Singh Bahadur, 
without having been able to achieve a definite result even after 20 days 
of fighting and loss of several soldiers, raised the siege. He, at that time 
was said to be commanding an army of "seventy to eighty thousand 
strong and adequate arms and ammunition, was forced to lift the siege 
because of two factors: "First, he had received appeals from the Sikhs of 
the central Punjab to extend them help against the local Faujdar. 22 
Secondly, he had learnt that Emperor Bahadur Shah had already sent his 
vanguard to crush the rebellion in the Punjab and was likely to be there 
soon to retrieve the lost territories and glory of the Mughals. The rains 
then set in and flooded the surroundings. The river Krishna was also 
overflowing its banks. Now it was fatal to wade through water to reach 
the fort when the besieged were raining arrows and shots on them. 
Hence, Banda Singh Bahadur thought it advisable to give up the siege 
and retreated towards Karnal. Thus, Jalal Khan breathed a sigh of relief 
and took a full vengenance upon the Sikhs of Unarsa, who were cruelly 
done to death along with Kapoor Singh. The Sikh commanders, Ram 
Singh and Binod Singh, settled at the inn of Tirauri, now their 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

headquarters. The rest of the Sikh forces returned to the Punjab. The 
Governor of Delhi, Asaf Daula Asad Khan, too, felt some relief now. He 
dismissed Muhammad Ali Hamid Khan, the Governor of Saharanpur, 
and replaced him by Jalal Khan. He awarded Jalal Khan a robe of 
honour, along with this new appointment, on August 21, 1710. His son, 
Dindar Ali Khan, was also promoted to a higher rank in the army. 23 


Most of the baptised Sikhs were the residents of the Malwa, the 
Doaba, and the Majha, during the life time of Guru Gobind Singh. When 
Banda Singh Bahadur appeared in the Punjab, many Sikhs joined him in 
the fulfilment of his mission and when he conquered Sarhind and a large 
area around it. The Sikhs of the Majha had also started their plans and 
preparations for establishing a Sikh government there. Banda Singh 
Bahadur did not himself take part in the rising in Majha and the 
disturbances in the Doaba. They were certainly caused by his activities 
and victories in the Malwa. Therefore, it will be in the fitness of things 
and in all fairness to Banda Singh that a brief account of these events be 
given here. 

"The victory of Sarhind," writes Ganda Singh, "had served as a 
signal for a general Sikh rising throughout the country, and it revived in 
them a new spirit of independence." They believed to have been 
providentially elevated to the position of conquerors and rulers, and 
refused to acknowledge the authority of their Mughal masters. Added to 
this were the orders of Banda Singh "addressed to the Khalsa of the 
Punjab (to the north of Sutlej) to devastate the territories on that side". 
The Sikhs, on their part, were only waiting since the battle of Chamkaur 
in December 1704, A.D. for an opportunity to settle the old scores with 
their persecutors. The entire Khalsa of Majha, and the Doaba, rose to end 
the Mughal rule and to establish the Sikh rule in the whole of the Punjab. 
"There was a sudden eruption and the Sikh volcanic lava flowed with 
such rapidity and force that it drove before it all who came in its way, 
Muslim or Hindu, officials or non-officials," writes Dr. Ganda Singh. 
About 8000 Sikhs of the Majha assembled at Amritsar and counselled 
together to overrun the territories of the Punjab. They collected arms and 
started considering themselves independent rulers and extorted nazranas 
from the surrounding villages. 

The Khalsa of Majha discussed their plans and the way in which they 
were to advance. It was not safe to move towards Lahore where the 

Rising of the Sikhs 


Governor and the imperial army were too strong for them to tackle. 
Qasoor, too, was well-defended by Kheshgi Pathans, who possessed well- 
trained armies and well defended forts. They agreed that the earliest area 
to attack was the Riarki. The Khalsa made up their mind and paid 
homage to their temple (Golden temple), said their prayers to their 
Gurus and God, and marched on the way to Riarki in Gurdaspur district. 
They compelled the chaudhries of every village that they approached, to 
pay them the tribute money and made them promise loyalty to the Sikh 
rule, and then moved ahead. Any village where the chaudhries were not 
traceable and yielding, was pillaged by them. The government police 
and revenue officers were dismissed and replaced by the Khalsa. 

Next the Khalsa turned to the Parganas of Batala and Kalanaur. 24 
These were exceptionally rich in those days. The Hakim of Batala, 
accompanied by his force, came to oppose them, but could not resist the 
assault. The Singhs then occupied Batala, turned out its government 
officials and established their own thanas. Then they ransacked Kalanaur, 
the residence of many a rich imperial noble. Batala was the market for 
commodities from Kashmir and Kabul. The conquest of these places 
added much to the resources of the Sikhs and they retraced their steps 
and marched towards Lahore. One group of theirs, mainly the Sikhs of 
Sathiala and Batala, pushed northwards and went to occupy the town 
and the territory of pargana of Pathankot. 

The main body of the Khalsa, which went towards Lahore, ravaged 
the country up to the Shalimar gardens. Lahore at that time was 
governed by Sayyad Aslam Khan. He was very weak and timid. So he 
was very much frightened. He dared not come out of the city to oppose 
the Sikhs in an open battle. The Mullas 25 now took the lead. They raised 
a religious cry, appealed to the sentiments of the Mohammadans, planted 
a green banner, known as the Haidri Flag, 26 near the Idgah Mosque, and 
proclaimed a Jehad, 27 a crusade against the Sikhs. In response to their call, 
the Muslims collected at the Idgah. The rich Muslims contributed funds 
for this move, and a vilification campaign against Aslam Khan. At last, 
when Sayyed Aslam Khan heard that he was being publicly defamed as 
a coward, he deputed Mir Ata Ullah and Muhib Khan, a zamindar of 
Faridabad, to join the Ghazis with a force of five hundred horses and one 
thousand foot soldiers. The leading persons amongst the Hindus who 
joined this party of Jehad was a grandson of Todar Mai and son of 
Paharamal. 28 

The Sikhs, on the other hand, divided their forces into four groups. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

One was deputed to deal with the situation in the Majha — the districts 
of Amritsar and Lahore — and the second was sent to Riarki and Kandhi, 
in the district of Gurdaspur up to the foothills, the third was to invade 
the capital city of Lahore, and the fourth was to remain in reserve as a 
moving column to be used in an emergency. The Lahore group 
established its firm base in the village of Bharat on the bank of the Ravi. 
Here, Mehta Bhagwant Rai, the Qanungo of the pargana of Neshta Bharli, 
in which Bharat was situated, had built a small brickfort which is 
mentioned by historians as Qila Bhagwant Rai. The Sikhs occupied it. It 
served as a rallying centre and as a place of defence. The Haidri Flag 
arrived there and the Sikhs in the meantime collected their supplies and 
put themselves in a defensive position. The crusaders and the imperial 
troops besieged the fort. The Khalsa did not come into the open to fight, 
but showered bullets and arrows from the walls of the fort. There was 
considerable bloodshed on both sides. The Sikhs then decided to leave 
the fort. So they sallied forth one night and broke through the enemy's 
lines. In an instant, they were beyond the reach of the besiegers. The 
crusaders were greatly disappointed at this slipping away of the Sikhs 
from their grasp. The crusaders then returned to Lahore. To cover up 
their shameful retreat, they started insulting the Hindus of the city and 
threatened their own rulers. 

When the Sikhs heard of this state of affairs, they again collected at 
Kotla Begam, near Chamiari, a few miles from Lahore, and resumed 
plundering and ravaging. The crusade (jihad) was again proclaimed and 
a large force collected to oppose the Sikhs. Soon, they came face to face 
with the Sikhs at the foot of Kotla Begam. The Sikhs came out of their 
enclosure and fell upon them. A desperate battle ensued, resulting in 
huge losses on both sides. Both the parties were balanced. Just at this 
stage the Sikhs made a bold attack, which turned the tables against the 
crusaders who could not withstand the onslaught, and fled. The Ghazis 
left the battlefield. The Sikhs, therefore, prudently took into their 
possession the material left behind by the fleeing Ghazis rather than 
pursue them further in that most inclement weather. They nursed their 
wounded and collected the booty, and retired behind their defences to 
spend the night there. At this time Banda Singh Bahadur was fighting 
against Jalal Khan across the Jamuna. The crestfallen crusaders returned 
towards Lahore. But their misfortunes had not ended yet. Another blow 
and perhaps the severest of all, was still waiting for them. On their way 
back they stopped at the village of Bhilowal for a night's rest. The 
regular soldiers were lodged in the fort and the others lay down to sleep 

Rising of ike Sikhs 


in an open place, unmindful of any threat from the Sikhs. The Sikhs, on 
the other hand, were cautiously and secretly pursuing them closely with 
the intention of striking another blow before they could get to Lahore. 
Early on the following morning, before daybreak, they issued forth from 
the neighbouring bushes and pounced upon the crusaders who were 
taken unawares. To quote Ganda Singh: "The Muhammadans offered no 
united front and most of them were cut down before they could be ready 
for resistance/'' This was like driving the last nail into the coffin of the 
enemy. The remaining crusaders now dispersed to their homes and their 
leaders came back to Lahore "hiding their faces". The crusaders lost very 
heavily in men and horses. Several hundreds of them, including Murtaza 
Khan and the grandson of Todar Mai, the leader of the Hindu allies, 
were killed, and horses and property worth several thousands fell into 
the hands of the Sikhs. Except the occupation of Lahore proper, 
practically the whole of the territory in the Majha and the Riarki tracts 
lay prostrate at their feet. Even after this Muhammadans appealed to 
their religious leaders to gird up their loins for revenge, but they dared 
not take the risk. 


The Bist Jullundur Doab consisting of the present districts of 
Jullundur and Hoshiarpur, could not remain unaffected. According to 
Ganda Singh, "Being on the border of the province of Sarhind, which 
had been conquered and occupied by Banda Singh Bahadur, was the first 
to be electrified with the spirit of rising and independence." So, the 
Khalsa of Doaba, following the footsteps of their brethren in the south, 
also embarked on a campaign of conquest. They took up arms and 
within a few weeks turned out the petty officials in the districts of 
Jullundur Doab and appointed Sikh tehsildars and thanedars in their 
place. 29 It was mainly the work of the local Sikhs and only a small 
detachment from the south sent across the Sutlej by the main force at 
Sarhind joined them. 30 

Shamas Khan, a Khalafzai Pathan of Kasur, was then the Faujdar of 
Jullundur Doab. He was the only son of Peer Khan, whose father, Sultan 
Ahmad Khan Khalafzai, had rendered yeoman's service to prince 
Muhammad Azam. Peer Khan held a high rank under Bahadur Shah and 
it was in recognition of his meritorious services that, after his death, his 
son Nur Khan, under the popular title of Shamas Khan, obtained the 
Faujdari of Doaba Bist Jullundur with his capital at Sultanpur. Inspired 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

and encouraged by their small successes, the Sikhs in Jullunder Doab 
now considered themselves strong enough to face the Faujdar himself. 
They sent him a letter in the form of a parwana, calling upon him to 
submit. But, according to the author of Banda the Brave, this ultimatum 
was sent by Banda Singh himself, which read: "The only means of your 
safety are to pay homage to the Khalsa and in future consider himself 
their tributary, and to send with the bearer a considerable quantity of 
ammunition, and come yourself with all your treasure/' 31 They 
despatched this letter to him by two Sikhs. Shamas Khan consulted his 
nobles and military officials, who all took oaths of fidelity and unity to 
stand by him till their last breath, and they swore by the holy words of 
the Quran. To gain time for his warlike preparations, he gave the 
messengers an evasive reply that he would soon come to meet the Sikhs. 
He also sent to them a little quantity of lead and powder and wrote to 
them that he could not send more for want of conveyance which he 
required for his friends and nobles. The merchants in the bazaar and the 
government stores, he said, had heaps of powder, which could be 
supplied in any quantity provided sufficient arrangements were made 
for conveyance. 32 

Shamas Khan was a clever man. So, on the one hand, he sent a small 
quantity of lead and powder to the Sikhs, assuring more to follow, and, 
on the other, proclaimed a jehad with the beat of the drum. The Sikhs 
took his message as genuine and relaxed in the hope of getting more. 
During the interregnum, Shamas Khan prepared for the fight and 
collected his men and material. It is said that more than a hundred 
thousand men were collected by him, in addition to large hordes of 
crusaders. They then proceeded against the Sikhs. On hearing of this 
anti-Sikh crusade and the advance of Shamas Khan with such an army 
and all the equipment of war, the Sikhs moved with all their force, 
numbering seventy to eighty thousand, according to Khafi Khan. This 
seems to have been very much exaggerated by Khafi Khan. According to 
Ganda Singh, "In all probability, it was at this time that they called upon 
Banda Singh and the Sikhs in the Gangetic Doab to hurry to the 
Punjab." 33 This seems to be plausible, too. The Sikhs then reached 
Rahon — a town 14 miles from Sultanpur. They occupied here the 
mounds of some old brick kilns and used the brick-kiln as a garhi 
(fortress), threw lines of entrenchments around their camp and got ready 
for the battle. From this place, as Khafi Khan relates, the Sikhs sent out 
patrols in all directions and issued threatening orders to the chaudhries, 
the revenue payers and the qanungos, the revenue officers, calling upon 
them to submit. 

Rising of the Sikhs 


The combined forces of Shamas Khan and his allies reached Rahon 
and attacked the Sikhs. The battle began with guns and muskets. The 
forces of Shamas Khan fell upon the Sikhs like locusts on a crop from all 
sides with cries of "Ali, Ali and AUah-u-Akbar". The Sikhs replied with 
voHeys of their cannons and their war cry "Sat Sri Akal", but they were 
completely at a disadvantage due to the overwhelming numbers of the 
enemy. The only way out of the impasse for them was to fight a 
rearguard action and retreat into the fort of Rahon. 

Shamas Khan besieged the fort. The battle raged between the Sikhs 
within the fort and the Ghazis outside it. It was October 11, 1710, A.D. 
The Sikhs saw no advantage in holding the fort against the 
overwhelming enemy. They, therefore, slipped out of the fort about 
midnight, breaking safely through a weak point in the enemy 
encirclement. Shamas Khan, too, thanked his stars for this easy riddance. 
He did not pursue the Sikhs. He reappointed his officers in Rahon and 
marched back to Sultanpur. The Ghazis who had survived the battle, 
returned to their homes, thanking God for an escape from the harm's 
way. In this connection, Ganda Singh remarks: "Apparently, he (Shamas 
Khan) felt tired and was looking for an opportunity to leave the Sikhs 
alone, especially when he thought of their being reinforced by the 
terrible Banda Singh, the conqueror of Sadhaura, Sarhind and 
Saharanpur." 34 

Shamas Khan, satisfied with the "so-called victory", returned to his 
headquarter (Sultanpur), stationing his men at Rahon. But, as per their 
plan, the vigilant Sikhs came back at once after the evacuation of the 
imperial forces, attacked the garrison, put faujdar's men to the sword and 
reoccupied the fort. They then placed their own thana there. The tactics 
of war, says Dr. Ganda Singh/is peculiarly a Sikh tactic and as so often 
been used by them in their wars with the Mughals, the Durranis and the 
local officials, has generally been misunderstood and misinterpreted a 
defeat. Their trick flights were many a time mistaken for their actual 
flights and under this impression the enemy followed them up, but they 
were soon disillusioned on finding the Sikhs turning upon their heels, 
pouncing upon their pursuers and cutting them down to the last man. 
The battle of Rahon was fought on the October 11, 1710, A.D., and its 
report (by Shamas Khan) was received by Emperor Bahadur Shah on 
October 25„ while he was at Sonepat. "Thus the progress of the Khalsa" 
writes Sphan Singh, "was now uncontested and uncurbed, till it received 
a fatal blow in the time of Farrukh Siyar." 35 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

After the occupation of Rahon, the Sikhs moved on to Jullundur. The 
Pathans of this place, so terrified that they found their safety in fleeing 
Rahon, fell into the hands of the Sikhs without any resistance from the 
officials and residents. Hoshiarpur followed suit, and like all others in 
the neighbourhood, its ruler acknowledged the authority of the 
conquerors. Thus, before long, practically the whole of the Bist Jullundur 
Doab came under the sway of the Sikhs. Shamas Khan himself was not 
allowed to remain at rest at Sultanpur and, according to the Maasir-ul- 
Umra, twenty-two battles were fought between the Sikhs and himself. 36 
Consequently, Jullundur, Hoshiarpur, Batala, Kalanaur, Pathankot and 
other places came under the domain of Banda Singh's men. The Sikhs 
had revolted and removed the Mughal officers between the Sutlej and 
the Ravi and threatened to occupy Lahore. However, the capital town of 
Lahore remained under the Mughal authority and the surrounding area 
came under the Sikh rule. This victorious campaign of the Sikhs between 
Delhi and Lahore created so much terror in the minds of the Mughal 
aristocracy that it was felt that "there was no noble daring enough to 
march from Delhi against them". 37 

About the demoralization in the Mughal aristocracy and glorious 
successes of Banda Singh Bahadur, S. Khushwant Singh observed thus: 
"In those fateful days, had Banda shown more enterprise he could have 
captured Delhi and Lahore and so changed the entire course of Indian 
history. But the otherwise daring Banda Singh Bahadur showed a lack of 
decision which proved fatal to his dreams." 38 And if Bahadur Shah had 
not quit the Deccan, which he did in A.D. 1710, and marched towards 
the Punjab with all his imperial forces "there is every reason to think," 
says Malcolm, "the whole of Hindustan would have been subdued by 
these . . . invaders." 39 The historic role must be judged on the basis of 
actual happenings and activities, says Dr. Raj Pal Singh, not on "ifs" and 
"buts". Therefore, while judging the role of Banda Singh Bahadur 
during "those fateful days", one cannot close ones eyes to the historical 
realities. It is a historical fact that notwithstanding the sporadic successes 
of revolts of either the Marathas or Rajputs or Jats of Bharatpur or the 
Sikhs, Bahadur Shah held the reins of administration fast in his hands. 
In matters of state, his word was final. Therefore, when he learnt about 
the Sikh obduracy and spirit of defiance in the key province of the 
Mughal empire, he immediately started making strenuous efforts to deal 
with the insurgency of Banda Singh Bahadur. It is difficult to accept the 
argument of learned Khushwant Singh, Malcolm and Iradat Khan that 
Banda lacked power of taking "decision" or did not show "more 
enterprise" to capture Lahore or Delhi. In fact, the provincial officers, 

Rising of the Sikhs 


where the Sikh rebellion had broken out, were not totally weak or 
insignificant as had been tried to be made out by Iradat Khan or S. 
Khushwant Singh. As discussed earlier in this chapter, in spite of their 
best efforts, the forces of Banda Singh Bahadur had to leave the fortress 
of Jalalabad unconquered. Likewise, their efforts to capture Lahore had 
been nullified by Aslam Khan. It was not lack of enterprising spirit on 
the part of Banda Singh Bahadur that Lahore or Delhi were not captured, 
but it was due to the relentless efforts made by the Mughal officers that 
checked the Sikh advance towards Delhi or Lahore. This author agrees 
with Dr. Raj Pal that Banda Singh Bahadur had sent his forces to take 
over Delhi also. But in this respect we have to agree with S.S. Gandhi 
and Iradat Khan that "their further progress southwards from Thanesar 
was opposed by Sardar Khan, a Muhammadan Rajput Zamindar. If it has 
not been for his exertions, there was nothing really to stop their 
advancing upon Delhi. It is true that Asad Khan or viceregent was there, 
and as a governor of the province in which Sarhind was included, it was 
his duty to have taken active measure to restore order. But he did 
nothing, probably because he was old and indifferent." 40 So we can 
conclude that Banda Singh Bahadur made serious efforts to capture both 
Lahore and Delhi, but did not find enough strength and opportunity to 
eject the ruling Mughal officers from there. Before he could accomplish 
his plans to capture either the provincial capital (Lahore) or the national 
capital (Delhi), Banda Singh Bahadur had to face the big Mughal army 
led by Emperor Bahadur Shah, advancing towards his recently 
conquered territories. 

5. Narang, G.C., op. cit., p. 141. 

6. Khafi Khan, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 655. Elliot and Dowson, History of India, as told by 
its own Historians, Vol. VII, p. 416. 

7. Muhammad Harisi, Ibrat Natnah, p. 82, Quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 75. 
Khafi Khan, in the Muntakhib-ul-Lubab, Vol. II, p. 654, gives his name as Ali 

Notes and References 





Khafi Khan, op. cit., p. 672; Satish Chandra, op. cit., p. 51. 
Quoted by S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 33. 

Sohan Singh Seetal, Rise of the Sikh Power in the Panjab, p. 71. 
Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 75. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

8. Khafi Khan, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 654. Quoted by Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 33. 

9. Muhammad Harisi, Ibrat Namah, 41 a-b, Quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 77. 
See Irvine, Later Mughals, p. 101. 

10. Descendants of the Muslim Saints, generally rich, influential families. 

11. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 78. 

12. Karam Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur, pp. 86-87. 

13. Akhbarat, dated July 1, 1710. 

14. Ibid. 

15. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 108. 

16. Jalal Khan was the son of Mir Hazar Khan. He was a descendant of the Orak Zai 
tribe of the Afghans, who had migrated to India during the time of Shah Jahan. 
He had been granted some villages as his estate. Jalal Khan succeeded Hazar 
Khan as the landlord of those villages. He had helped Aurangzeb during the 
latter 's war against Dara Shikoh. He was granted some more villages in the 
Pargana of thana Bhawan as a reward for his services. He had destroyed Khera 
Manihar and built a fort on its ruin and called it Jalalabad. 

17. Sohan Singh, Banda the Brave, pp. 95-96. 

18. Khafi Khan, Muntakhib-ul-Labab, p. 655, Quoted by G.S. Deol, op. cit., p. 63. 

19. Karam Singh, op. cit., pp. 90-91. 

20. Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 81. Sohan Singh Seetal writes in his book, Rise of the 
Sikh Power in the Punjab, p. 76: "Jalal Khan wrote a report of all this fighting to 
the Emperor that was received in Delhi on July 1, 1710 A.D." 

21. Khazan Singh, History and Philosophy of Sikh Religion, Part I, Lahore (1914), p. 212. 

22. Khafi Khan, op. cit., p. 652, Vol. II. 

23. Sohan Singh Seetal, op. cit., p. 77. 

24. The place where Akbar the Great had been crowned. 

25. The Mullas and other religious fanatics, who were mostly at the bottom of all 
religious persecution of the non- Muslims and who now suffered most at the 
hands of the Khalsa, were fleeing to Lahore. Great consternation prevailed there. 

26. Muslim flag named after Hazrat Ali. 

27. Holy war. 

28. Ganda Singh, op. cit., pp. 85-86. 

29. Ibid., p. 93. 

30. Sohan Singh Seetal, op. cit., p. 89. 

31. Sohan Singh, Banda the Brave, p. 116. 

Rising of the Sikhs 


32. Irvine William, op. cit., p. 99. 

33. Ganda Singh, op. cit., pp. 96-97. 

34. Ibid., p. 98. 

35. Sohan Singh, op. cit., p. 120. 

36. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 101. 

37. Iradat Khan, Quoted by Ganda Singh, p. 101 and S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 16. 

38. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 109. 

39. Malcolm, Sketch of the Sikhs, p. 79. Also see, Irvine, Later Mughals, p. 98. 

40. S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 10. 


Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 

The report of the Sikh uprising had been received by the Emperor near 
the Narbada in December 1709 A.D. 1 This was followed by the reports of 
the further progress of the activities of the Sikhs under Banda Singh 
Bahadur. The Emperor who had been alarmed by reports of the Sikh 
aggression sent by Asad Khan from Delhi and by various Waqa 
Nawises, 2 was hastening back to the north in order to suppress the 
rebellion. Bahadur Shah reached Ajmer on May 30, 1710, A.D., after a 
successful expedition against his younger brother Mohammad Kam 
Bakhsh. 3 He had come to Rajputana to reduce the refractory chiefs, Raja 
Jai Singh Kachhwaha and Raja Ajit Singh, son of Jaswant Singh Rathor. 4 
It was here that the alarming news about the seriousness of Sikh 
rebellion reached the Emperor, which changed the situation because its 
gravity invited the Emperor's immediate attention to affairs in the north. 
The Emperor did not even enter his capital to take rest after his southern 
successes, but marched straight on towards Sarhind to punish the Sikhs. 
The possible consequences of a popular uprising such as that of the 
Sikhs, in close proximity to the imperial capital and the strategic north- 
western area, were considered to be more dangerous than the pending 
quarrel with the Rajputs. . . . Hence, a settlement was hurriedly patched 
up with the Rajput Rajas. Bahadur Shah hastened towards the Punjab 
from Ajmer after he had heard the tales of woes and sufferings of the 
plundered inhabitants of Sarhind, Thanesar and Sadhaura. The stories of 

Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 


sufferings of his co-religionists and also of the members of the ruling 
aristocracy lent poignancy to his hitherto resolve of destroying the Sikhs 
root and branch. 5 On hearing about the activities of the Sikhs under 
Banda Singh Bahadur, Emperor Bahadur Shah took steps to suppress 
them. He sent a big contingent towards Saharanpur under the command 
of Feroz Khan Mewati and himself decided to reach Punjab to take steps 
to suppress the disturbances. He left Ajmer on June 27, 1710, A.D. 
accompanied by Chatar Sal Bundela and other nobles. En route to 
Punjab, he issued orders to Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf-ud-Daula Asad Khan, 
Khan-i-Durrani, Subedar of Awadh Muhammad Amin Khan Chin, 
Faujdar of Muradabad Khan Jahan, Subedar of Allahabad Sayyid 
Abdullah Khan Barha, and others to join with their forces without delay, 
the forces of Asad Khan, the Subedar of Delhi, in his expedition against 
the Sikhs. The Emperor's camp moved via Rupnagar, Sambhar, Rasulpur, 
Pragpur, Narnaul and Sonepat. En route Bahadur Shah kept on issuing 
important orders to the Mughal officers to mobilize their forces against 
Banda Singh Bahadur. On August 26, 1710, A.D., Abu Muhammad Khan 
was "given a Khilat and told that the Zamindar of Kumaou be sent to 
chastise Banda Singh Bahadur". On August 28, 1710, A.D.,farmans were 
issued in the names of zamindars of Srinagar (Garhwal) and Sirmaur 
(Nahan) regarding administering of punishment to the Nanak 
worshippers. 6 

Banda Singh Bahadur was aware that it would be very difficult for 
him to face the Mughal power with the meagre resources at his disposal. 
For broadening his base of support, he wrote letters to Raja Jai Singh of 
Amber and Raja Ajit Singh of Jodhpur soliciting their help in this hour 
of reckoning against the Mughals. 7 Similar letters were despatched by 
him to the ruler of Jawalapur. 8 He was also reported to be in touch with 
the Mughal aristocracy for their help and cooperation. For example, on 
September 23, 1710 A.D. it was "conveyed to the Emperor that Bakht 
Mai, Peshkar of Muhammad Yar Khan, Nazim of Shahjahanbad (Delhi), 
was in correspondence with the Sikhs". But none came to his help. 9 On 
the other hand, Bahadur Shah tried to weaken the hold and influence of 
Banda Singh Bahadur on the Sikhs by beseeching the cooperation of Ajit 
Singh, the adopted son of Mata Sundari (wife of Guru Gobind Singh) 
who was staying at Delhi. The Emperor deputed Raja Chhatar Sal 
Bundela to bring him from Delhi in his presence. When Ajit Singh and 
Chhatar Sal appeared in the camp of Bahadur Shah on September 23, 
1710 A.D., the Emperor gave presents' to both the Raja and the 
Sahibzada. "The Raja received Mohars and Khilat and Ajit Singh — Mohars, 
a sword, a shield, and a Khilat." 10 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

On September 29, 1710, A.D., Bahadur Shah, "after a quarter of the 
night had passed", called Munim Khaiv's son Mahabat Khan "into his 
presence and presenting him with a Khilat sent him to punish the Nanak 
worshippers. He was asked to stay at Karnal and furnish the account of 
the areas between Delhi and Karnal to the Emperor. The services of 
Nusrat Khan, Ghulam Nabi Quli Khan, Raja Chhatar Sal Bundela, and 
Sayyid Hasan Khan were drafted to help him. Bahadur Shah arrived at 
Sonepat on October 22, 1710, A.D. In the meantime, fearing lest there 
should be any disguised Sikhs among the bearded Hindus in the royal 
camp, an order was issued on September 8, 1710, A.D. for all Hindus 
employed in the imperial office to shave off their beards". There was no 
Sikh at all in the whole establishment and the Hindu Peshkars and 
Diwans submissively obeyed the royal order, shaved off their beards, and 
received from the Emperor Khilats for their implicit obedience and loyal 
service. At Sonepat, on October 26, the Emperor got the news of the 
battle of Rahon fought on October 12, 1710, A.D. Here he learnt the news 
of a couple of engagements with the Sikhs. 

The advance contingents sent by the Emperor under the command of 
Feroze Khan Mewati, Wazid Khan (Faujdar of Jammu) and Mahabat 
Khan, after having re-established their authority on the towns of 
Sonepat, Kaithal, Panipat and Karnal, came face to face with the forces 
of Banda Singh Bahadur near Amin (Thanesar) on October 16, 1710, A.D. 
The Sikh contingent led by Baba Binod Singh and Baba Ram Singh won 
an early victory over the contingent led by Mahabat Khan. However, the 
army of Mahabat Khan faced the Sikh onslaught valiantly. On October 
20, 1710 A.D ., it was reported to the Emperor that Feroz Khan had "got 
great victory and chopped off three hundred heads of the rebels and sent 
the same to the Emperor". Elated at the news, the Emperor ordered that 
"the heads be displayed on the route. The heads were mounted on 
spears and exhibited". Feroz Khan Mewati was given one lakh rupees 
and appointed Governor of Sarhind in supersession of his previous 
orders for the appointment of Zain-ud-din Khan. 11 Emperor also sent six 
dresses of honour for him and his allies on October 30, 1710, A.D. Hotly 
chased by the Mughal forces, Baba Binod Singh and Ram Singh escaped 
from Arnin, Thanesar, Shahabad and Mustafabad and reached Sadhaura. 

On the Emperor's arrival at Azamabad-Tirawari (Alamgirpur) 
Rustamdil Khan presented to him a gold, studded parasol that had fallen 
into Firoz Khan's hands at Thanesar and informed him that Firoz Khan 
had moved from Thanesar towards Shahabad in pursuit of the Sikhs. 

Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 


While Firoz Khan Mewati was busy with the Sikhs, Bayzid Khan 
Kheshgi pushed on towards the north. Shamas Khan, from Bist 
Jullundur, was also encouraged by the Emperor's march against the 
Sikhs and the return of his own uncle Bayzid Khan. He collected a large 
host of villagers from the Bist Jullundur Doab and marched upon 
Sarhind, says Dr. Ganda Singh. The combined forces of Bayzid Khan, 
Shamas Khan and Umar Khan encountered the Sikhs in the garden of 
Yaqub Khan. Baj Singh, the Governor of Sarhind, was then absent on 
some expedition. His brother Sukha Singh and Sham Singh offered a 
bold front, but they were outnumbered. Sukha Singh died while fighting 
with the Mughals, and the 'Sikhs retired to the fort of Sarhind. Bahadur 
Shah reached Okala on November 27, 1710, A.D., and ordered 
Muhammad Amin Khan Chin Bahadur to move upon Sarhind by forced 
marches and lay siege to the fort. But before his arrival there, the fort had 
fallen into the hands of Shamas Khan and he had despatched 300 heads 
of the Sikhs killed in the battle, and some colours and rockets to the 
Emperor, which were received at Sadhaura on December 4, 1710, A.D. 
The loss of his opportunity for gaining credit for the capture of Sarhind 
perturbed Mohammad Amin Khan very much and he became an 
avowed enemy of Shamas Khan. He reported to the Emperor that 
Shamas Khan had collected a large force with evil intentions and that his 
movements were not without danger to the peace of the country. Poor 
Shamas Khan, against all hopes of being raised to a higher rank, was 
treated most ungratefully. He was dismissed from the Faujdari of Doaba 
Bist Jullundur, and Isa Khan Manj 12 was appointed in his place with the 
rank of 1500 Zat, 1000 Sawar. 13 Firoz Khan Mewati was ordered to restore 
Emperor's authority in the rural areas. 14 

The Sikhs from Thanesar and Sarhind had retreated towards Lohgarh 
when Bahadur Shah arrived at Sadhaura on December 4, 1710, A.D. Banda 
Singh Bahadur had also come there to strengthen his fortifications. In the 
royal camp it was rumoured that Banda Singh Bahadur was a "most 
powerful magician, greater even than the one who made a calf to talk, he 
could turn a bullet from its course and could work such spells that spear 
and sword had little or no effect upon his followers". 15 Owing to these idle 
rumours the Emperor and the nobles and the soldiers were much 
disturbed mentally and were disheartened and terror-stricken. 

On December 4, 1710, A.D., a strong Mughal force under Rustamdil 
Khan advanced from its base at Sadhaura- towards Lohgarh to examine 
the position of Ban da's defences. At a distance of 5 km they were 
suddenly attacked by Banda Singh's troops. Khafi Khan writes: "It is 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

impossible for me to describe the fight which followed. The Sikhs in 
their faqir dress struck terror into the royal troops. The number of the 
dead and dying of the imperialists was so large that, for a time, it seemed 
they were losing ground. A nephew of Firoz Khan Mewati was killed 
and his son wounded." 16 In this battle Banda Singh Bahadur lost 1,500 
(fifteen hundred) Sikhs and two sardars. 17 This battle was fought on 
December 5, 1710, A. D. Banda Singh Bahadur cut off convoys and other 
detachments and killed two or three Faujdars. It rained for four or five 
days and weather became very cold. Thousands of soldiers of the 
imperial force fell ill and many horses died. Their stench was 
unbearable. The soldiers attributed this calamity to the sorcery of Banda 
Singh Bahadur. 

Another big contingent under the command of Emperor's son, Prince 
Rafi-us-Shan, was ordered to reinforce Rustamdil Khan. Kan war Khan in 
his Tazkirat-ul-Salatin writes: "This humble person was then present with 
the troops of Prince Rafi-us-Shan, and saw with his own eyes that 
everyone of the cursed Sikhs came out of the entrenchments, challenged 
the imperial troops and after great struggle and trial, fell under the 
swords of the Ghazis." 18 And with the setting of the sun, they retreated 
towards the eastern mountains and fell back upon the foft of Lohgarh. 
Rustamdil Khan was then raised to the mansab of 4,000 Zat and 3000 
Sawar with the title of Ghazi Khan Rustam-e-Jang. 

Rustamdil Khan made a further advance by 4 km and reached the 
stream Som. From there the fort of Lohgarh was visible. It was perched 
on the top of a hill. Between the stream Som and Lohgarh lay a dense 
forest. It produced frightful sounds at night. The imperial camp arrived 
there on December 9, 1710, A.D. The Prime Minister Munim Khan and 
his son Mahabat Khan were assigned the duty to guard the royal camp. 
The following day on December 10, 1710, A.D., the imperial army, 60,000 
strong, pushed forward in battle array so as to surround the fort of 
Lohgarh on all sides. Wazir Munim Khan, his son Mahabat Khan and 
Chhatarsal Bundela were incharge of the right wing. Udet Singh Bundela 
and Churaman Jat commanded the left wing. Rustamdil Khan was in the 
centre when they reached within the range of the Sikh guns, they were 
heavily shelled. The Mughal troops entered the trenches at the foot of the 
hill. The Sikhs fought hard, but they were repulsed. The survivors 
retreated up the hill and large number of Mughals were also killed. 19 

The fort of Lohgarh was small. There was no space for storing large 
quantities of grain and fodder. Their supplies had run short. From the 

Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 


top of their fort they bargained, with signs of their hands and eyes, with 
the grain-dealers with the royal army, and bought what they could from 
them at two and three rupees a seer of grain. They threw their chadars or 
sheets from above and pulled it up with ropes. A handful or two of it 
was distributed to each of the besieged, many of whom died of 
starvation. Dr. G.S. Deol says that one Diwan Hardyal, a prominent 
figure in the royal camp, an admirer of the Sat Guru, helped Banda Singh 
Bahadur with provisions as far as he could. But this could no longer 
suffice. They were also said to have eaten their horses and other beasts 
of burden to appease their hunger. The last faint hope now left to the 
Sikhs was the desperate chance of cutting through the enemy. A Sikh 
Gulab Singh by name, a Hindu convert, Bakshi of the Khalsa force, had 
a great resemblance with Banda Singh Bahadur. He put on Banda Singh's 
clothes and took up position in his place. At 3 o'clock in the morning on 
December 11, 1710, A.D., a hollow trunk of a big tamarind tree lying in 
the lower parts of the hill was filled with gun powder. The guns in the 
fort were also kept ready to fire simultaneously. Just when the 
gunpowder in the tree trunk was blown off and the guns in the fort fired, 
Banda Singh and his men escaped in the great confusion prevailing in 
the Mughal camp. They safely disappeared into the Sirmaur hills 20 or 
towards the mountains of the Barfi Raja of Nahan. 21 

With the sunrise on December 11, 1710 A.D. the imperial forces 
delivered a vehement assault on the fort. The Mughal troopers continued 
climbing the hill. Gulab Singh and thirty of his companions were 
captured. A number of women and children of the neighbouring village 
had taken up shelter in the Sikh fort. They were taken prisoners. The 
;booty in the fort comprised many horses and camels, five elephants, 
three big guns, seventeen light guns, a few muskets and swords, a 
canopy with silver poles, gold and silver coins worth eight lakhs of 
rupees, and from underground gold coins to the value of twenty lakhs 
of rupees. 22 

There were great rejoicings in the imperial camp. On December 12, 
1710, A.D., a great durbar was held and various honours were conferred 
on all the commanders. In the evening it was discovered that the real 
Banda Singh Bahadur had escaped and that it was a duplicate who had 
been captured. According to Khafi Khan, "The hawk had flown and an 
owl had been caught/' 23 All were thoroughly disappointed. The Mughal 
camp wore a mourning appearance. The Emperor summoned Prime 
Minister Munim Khan and administered to him a sharp rebuke. The 
Wazir took the insult to heart, fell ill and died two and a half months 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

later, when the Emperor was halting at Badhauli, not far from Sadhaura, 
on his way to Lahore. 24 

On December 13, 1710, A.D., orders were despatched to the Rajas of 
Srinagar and Nahan calling upon them to sieze the Sikh leader and 
despatch him to the royal presence. Hamid Khan was sent in pursuit 
with the orders: "If they caught the Sikh chief they were to take him 
prisoner alive, if they could not, they were to take the Barfi Raja and 
bring him to the presence." As Banda Singh and the Sikhs had effected 
their escape into or through the territory of the Raja of Nahan, the crime 
of the Raja was considered to be more potent. The imperial nobles, 
finding no trace of the Sikhs, poured their bile upon Raja Bhup Prakash 
of Nahan and brought him to the royal camp near the village of Puri on 
December 22, 1710, A.D. He was thrown into prison and about thirty of 
the leading hillmen who were deputed by his old mother to plead for his 
release, were executed on March 23, 1711, A.D. The fate reserved for Raja 
Bhup Parkash was rather pitiable. He and Gulab Singh, Banda Singh's 
substitute, were both put in an iron cage, sent to Delhi and imprisoned 
in the Red Fort. Gulab Singh's thirty companions were beheaded. 25 Raja 
Fateh Singh of Srinagar, living in inaccessible mountains, could not be 

After the despatch of orders to the Rajas of Nahan and Srinagar for 
the capture of the Sikh leader Banda Singh Bahadur, and of Hamid Khan 
Bahadur in pursuit of him, Emperor Bahadur Shah moved -his camp 
towards Puri and Sadhaura, Sarwarpur, Rasulpur and Badhauli, where 
his Prime Minister Munim Khan passed away, he reached Rupar on 
April 30, 1710, A.D. He crossed the Sutlej on May 17, 1711, A.D., and 
reached Hoshiarpur on June 9, 1711, A.D. The river Beas was crossed on 
June 23. He arrived at Kahnuwan on July 17 where he enjoyed hunting 
water fowls. He reached Lahore on August 11, 1711, A.D. Some time 
afterwards, the Emperor developed signs of insanity and died on 
February 28, 1712, A.D. 

After his escape from Lohgarh, Banda Singh Bahadur arrived at 
Kiratpur on December 12, 1710, A.D. The escape of Banda Singh Bahadur 
and the Sikhs was in fact a defeat for the Emperor and his crusading 
forces whose every effort to capture the Sikh leader had hopelessly failed 
and he had escaped, says Dr. Ganda Singh, sword in hand, cutting 
through the lines of over sixty thousand horse and foo±. After his tactical 
escape from Lohgarh, Banda Singh Bahadur did not lose heart nor was 
he worried about the loss of his stronghold and the treasure. Banda 

Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 


Singh Bahadur knew that he was labouring under a disadvantage of 
numerical strength against the imperial odds, and that he suffered the 
loss for want of ammunition and provisions. No doubt, he conquered 
some six districts of the then Punjab from Panipat to Lahore, but it was 
purely a military occupation and he had not as yet been able to establish 
an indisputably complete mastery over them. Whatever small force he 
had was distributed over the conquered territories. And, as all this from 
the occupation of Samana to the evacuation of Lohgarh, had taken place 
in the short space of less than a year, it was beyond his means to collect 
provision large enough to stand a siege by sixty thousand imperial 
troops. Dr. Ganda Singh says that in spite of all this, Banda Singh and a 
handful of Sikhs foiled the attempt of the great Mughals with all the 
resources of the vast Mughal empire at their command. Banda Singh 
Bahadur knew that his strength lay in the spirit of the Sikhs, which was 
unconquerable. So, within a period of two weeks he started issuing 
hukamnamas to the Khalsa throughout the length and breadth of the 
country. One such hukamnama dated December 26, 1710, A.D., was sent 
by him to the Khalsa of Jaunpur in U.P., inviting them to gather at 
Anandpur immediately. It is reproduced below in English: 

I Seal 1 

Deg O Teg O Fateh O Nusrat-i-Bedirang 
Yaft as Nanak Guru Gobind Singh. 26 

Ik Onkar Fateh Darshan. 27 

This is the order of Sri Sacha Sahib. 28 The Guru shall save the entire 
Khalsa of Jaunpur. Repeat Guru Guru, the life shall be purified. You are 
the Khalsa of tine great Akal Purkh. On seeing this hukam, repair to the 
presence, wearing the five arms. Live according to the Rahit of the Khalsa. 
Do not use bhang, tobacco, post (poppy capsules), wine or any other 
intoxicant. Do not eat meat, fish and onion 2 ^ Commit no theft, adultery 
or any sexual immorality. We have brought about the age of Sat-Yuga. 
Love one another. 

I enjoin that he who lives according to the Rahit of the Khalsa shall be 
saved by the Guru. 

Poh 12, Samrnat L 

(December 26, 1710 A.D.) 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

This hukamnama exhorted the Sikhs to join him fully armed in the 
service of the Khalsa. On getting these letters several contingents of the 
Sikhs from various parts of the Punjab assembled at Kiratpur. When 
Banda Singh felt that now he was strong enough to take up expeditions, 
he started for the hills to punish hill chiefs of the Shiwaliks. 

The first among them on whom Banda Singh Bahadur focussed his 
attention was the Raja of Kahlur, Bhim Chand by name. The main reason 
of his becoming the first target was because of his having played a role 
against Guru Gobind Singh in his fights against the hill chiefs and the 
imperial troops. As usual with Banda Singh, a messenger was sent with 
a parwana, calling upon him to submit. But the Raja, on the other hand, 
expecting the attack by the Sikhs, had requisitioned the services of 
leading zamindars of the Jullundur Doab and the Rajas of the 
neighbouring hills who now strengthened the fortress of Bilaspur. The 
Sikhs attacked the fortress so fiercely that the combined forces of Raja 
Bhim Chand and his allies was no match for the army of Banda Singh 
Bahadur which slaughtered them ruthlessly. It is estimated that over 
1300 were slain in the fight. The town of Bilaspur was then looted and 
"it yielded immense booty to the Sikhs". The defeat of Raja Bhim Chand 
disheartened the other hill chiefs of the Shiwaliks. So, in order to avoid 
the horrors that might befall them in case of resistance, they thought it 
better to submit to Banda Singh. Many of them came into Banda Singh's 
camp to greet him and offered Nazrana, assuring him of their loyalty. 
Raja Sidhsen of Mandi also accepted the overlordship of Banda Singh. 30 
Raja Mansingh of Kullu is said to have unsuccessfully attempted to 
capture Banda Singh, who dodged him and escaped towards Mandi. 31 It 
is also learnt that Banda Singh went into the realm of Raja Udai Singh 
of Chamba and was married to a princess from whom he begot his son 
Ajai Singh. 32 After this short sojourn in the hilly tract, he (Banda Singh) 
went towards Jammu and defeated its Faujdar. Then he came to a quiet 
place in south of Jammu and lived in a dera there for some time. It was 
here that a son, whom he named Ajai Singh, was born to Rajkumari of 
Chamba, towards the end of 1711 A.D. 33 

Banda Singh did not stay in the hills for long, while the Emperor was 
still at Sadhaura busy in the lower hills. In the beginning of 1711 A.D. 
(February-March), in about three months from the date of the fall of 
Lohgarh, the Sikh chief issued from the hills near Raipur and 
Bahrampur, and began to extend his influence in the direction of 
Gurdaspur, 34 where he built a fort and collected stores of munition, grain 
and fodder. 35 Bazid Khan was the Governor of Jammu at that time. He 

Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 


was also called Rutb-ud-din Keshgi. He had been joined by his nephew 
Shamas Khan after his fight in the battle of Rahon and his subsequent 
removal from the office of the Faujdar of the Doaba. So both the uncle 
and the nephew came and met the Sikhs near Bahrampur (Gurdaspur 
District). After some fighting the Khalsa retreated as a part of their tactical 
move. That retreat was taken by the enemy as fleeing. Though the uncle 
advised his nephew to stop and not to pursue the Sikhs, the nephew 
insisted on chasing the fleeing Sikhs. But after the Sikhs had gone a few 
miles, they turned round and fell upon him and "his uncle like hungry 
lions. The Sikhs' swords then worked like machines. The arrogant 
Shamas Khan was killed in the midst of the battle, whereas Bazid Khan 
was seriously wounded. The other men chasing them were also cut to 
pieces, but those who survived were soon joined by others who were 
coming behind from Raipur. But the Sikhs again goaded their horses and 
in the twinkling of an eye vacated the field. Wazid Khan's son (Shabad) 
could only carry the bodies of Shamas Khan and the dying Bazid Khan, 
who died a couple of days later at Raipur as a result of his serious 
wounds. 36 The entire camp equipage of the Faujdar of Jammu and 
Shamas Khan fell into the hands of the Khalsa who overran the towns of 
Raipur and Bahrampur and advanced upon the parganas of Kalanaur and 

On receipt of the information of the arrival of the Sikhs in the 
neighbourhood, many of the inhabitants of these places deserted their 
homes and fled to Lahore and other places of safety with their families 
and such property as they could carry. The victory at Raipur-Bahrampur 
in November 1711, A.D., had greatly encouraged the Sikhs. They 
pillaged the whole territory of Kalanaur, Batala and Achal. These 
well-known towns which enjoyed special importance in the Mughal 
times were known to be the repositories of wealth throughout that part 
of the province. So the Khalsa army had a good amount of booty from 
these places. 

Next Banda Singh Bahadur' wanted to advance upon Lahore but 
since he was being pursued by the imperial generals at close quarters 
and the Emperor himself being not far off, he crossed the Ravi into the 
Rachna Doab and went towards the hills of Jammu. According to 
Dr. Ganda Singh, "Mohammad Amin Khan, Aghar Khan and Rustamdil 
Khan now combined their troops together and encircled Banda Singh 
from three sides. But his genius extricated him without any loss." Giving 
them a slip, Banda Singh suddenly appeared from the opposite direction, 
near Parol and Kathua, and fell upon the troops of Rustamdil Khan. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Cutting through the enemy lines, he, accompanied by the Singhs, 
escaped unhurt into the difficult defile of craggy mountains and 
Rustamdil was unable to pursue him. Dejected at his reverses Rustamdil 
Khan poured his anger upon the inhabitants of Parol and Kathua. He 
committed terrible atrocities on the people and captured youngmen and 
women and brought them to Lahore for sale in the horse market 
(Nakhkhas). 37 

Soon afterwards, some differences, resulting in a serious quarrel, 
arose between the two commanders, Muhammad Amin Khan and 
Rustamdil Khan, and as Amin Khan succeeded in poisoning the 
Emperor's impressionable mind against Rustamdil Khan, he (Rustamdil 
Khan) left the expeditionary force in disgust and returned to Lahore. The 
Emperor got annoyed and ordered that he be produced before him. He 
was brought at night and the Emperor ordered that he be imprisoned 
with fetters on his feet and his property be confiscated. Muhammad 
Amin Khan, however, continued his stay in the hills in connection with 
the pursuit of the Sikhs, though evidently, without much success. 

The Sikhs of Lahore and its neighbourhood were passing through 
hard times in those days. The Mughal oppression and tyranny heaped 
upon them were of the extreme type. There was a general order to kill 
the Sikhs wherever they were found. Anyone suspected of being a Sikh 
or being friendly with a Sikh, was put to death without much ado. The 
order was carried out most indiscriminately and many people were 
murdered and persecuted on the charge of being Sikhs or their 
supporters and sympathisers. They even objected to the religious 
worship of the Hindus, resulting in the murder of a poor Avadhuta 
women. It was almost impossible for the Hindus to live in Lahore. The 
entire Hindu population in Lahore was thoroughly terrorised by such 
acts. This was followed by a more serious mishap. 38 

One day, the relations of the Khan-i-Khanan's Hindu Mutasaddi, Shiv 
Singh, whose son was suffering from smallpox, were going for worship, 
singing and beating a drum, to the temple of Seetla Devi, the goddess of 
smallpox. On this the Maulavis or Mullas of Lahore raised a religious cry, 
complaining that Kufar or heresy was gaining ground in the city. A 
hundred thousand Muslim fanatics, mostly shoemakers and vegetable- 
sellers, responded to the call and under the leadership of one Virdi Beg, 
backed by the Mullas, subjected the defenceless Hindus to an 
^discriminate plunder. The whole of Lahore was shocked to see this 
fanaticism and cruelty. But for the timely help of Bachan Singh 

Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 


Kachhwaha and Badan Singh Bundela, who had been deputed by the 
Emperor for the protection of the city, most of the Hindu population 
would, perhaps, have perished. At this critical juncture these two 
officials occupied a safe position outside the city and by beat of drum, 
called the Hindus out into their protection. Zabardast Khan now realized 
the graveness of the situation and, on his advice, Aslam Khan, the 
Governor of Lahore, put an end to this unpleasant affair. 39 

The imperial camp was at this time on its way to Lahore. Quite 
contrary to what the truth was, those idiotic fanatics, steeped in 
ignorance, ''complained to the Emperor that they had suffered very 
heavily at the hands of the Hindus and the Sikhs in the last riot". It was 
also suggested to the Emperor by some interested people that the Sikhs 
in the guise of the Hindus, were at the bottom of all this trouble. The 
Emperor asked them about the difference between the Hindus and the 
Sikhs. He was told that the Hindus shaved their heads and chin but the 
Sikhs never did that. Emperor issued a royal proclamation that it was 
compulsory for the Hindus to shave their heads and beards and any 
Hindu disobeying the order, was to be punished as a Sikh. The 
government officers in the city took the barbar with them and whoever 
met them with a beard on, was shaved without fail. Royal princes, 
Mutsaddis and other well-known Hindus, shaved off their beards in their 
own houses before they came into the royal presence. This practice went 
on from day-to-day until the royal camp arrived in the neighbourhood 
of Lahore and orders for preparations for the coronation day celebrations 
were issued. 40 

Emperor Bahadur Shah, as we know, arrived at Lahore on August 11, 
1711, A.D. He did not reside in the fort. Instead, he pitched a camp near 
the village of Anwala, near the bank of the river Ravi. In January 1712, 
A.D., the Emperor fell ill and his health started deteriorating. He could 
not even appear for the annual celebrations of his coronation. His 
condition deteriorated further in another month. He ordered the dogs 
and the donkeys in the city to be killed. Another royal order demanded 
the yogis, ascetics and fakirs to be turned out of the city. The Emperor 
held his last Durbar on February 24, 1712, A.D. The next day he was 
reported to be very seriously ill. A great excitement and commotion 
prevailed among the Princes and Amirs during the three days of his 
illness. During the night between February 27 and 28, 1712, A.D., 
Monday, the Emperor breathed his last. 41 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Thus we see that Bahadur Shah's attempt to quell the Sikh uprising 
led by Banda Singh Bahadur had come to a naught in spite of his best 
efforts. The Hindus and the Sikhs had joined hands to make it a grand 
success. The bewildered Emperor was finding no way out to disunite 
them as his efforts to browbeat the Sikhs by imposing Jazia at the double 
rate had also failed to produce the desired effect. Likewise, shaving of 
beards of the Hindus also had no effect on the Sikh movement as such. 
So other punitive steps were taken. On May 29, 1711, A.D., "an order was 
issued that in future the jazia should be realised at the increased rate 
from the Hindus also." 42 Raja Jagat Singh of Srinagar-Garhwal took stern 
action against the Sikhs residing in his area as evidenced by his act of 
sending twenty-five chopped off heads of the Sikhs to the Emperor at his 
camp in the vicinity of Rahon. 43 Banda Singh Bahadur frustrated the 
efforts of the imperialists in the hills of Jammu whose topography he 
knew as a young boy. 

The Emperor was trying his level best to reinforce the forces of the 
generals engaged in fighting Banda Singh Bahadur by issuing 
instructions immediately on the receipt of the whereabouts of Banda 
Singh Bahadur and his men. To keep the high spirits from sagging 
further, the Emperor continued to order them either to hold Banda Singh 
Bahadur captive or murder him. But it is to the credit of this brave 
fighter for the liberation of the people that, by his bold planning and 
daring fighting, he brought every effort of the imperialists to naught. 
Banda Singh Bahadur was a man of war and his followers were soldiers 
in the spirit of the word. Both made an excellent combination to frustrate 
their enemies. The hope of getting proprietary rights on the land and 
booty, attracted the sturdy peasantry to his standards in ever-increasing 
numbers, which enabled him to carry on his fight against the 
imperialists in spite of the heavy odds against him. Commenting on this 
aspects, Fauja Singh has rightly said that his "general promise at the very 
outset of his campaigns to distribute the conquered lands among those 
who would fight for him, and his land reforms after the conquest of 
Sarhind, conferring proprietorship upon petty cultivators in place of 
Zamindars or Chaudhries, popularised his cause and made him the 
rallying point of the poor agricultural classes, thereby broadening the 
base of his struggle. As a result of this, he was able to mobilise a huge 
mass of people for the execution of his grandiose plans". 44 Enraged at 
the continued support of the common people to the cause of Banda 
Singh Bahadur, his opponents "committed great excesses" as was done 
against the inhabitants of Kathua by Rustamdil Khan, "by seizing many 
persons with the wrongful accusation of being Sikhs and giving them to 

Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 


his soldiers in lieu of pay. These latter sold the poor wretches in the 
horse market (nakhkhas) at Lahore". 45 As discussed earlier, the 
imposition oijazia on the Hindus and the Sikhs of Subah Delhi at double 
the rate did not deter the common people from joining his standards. At 
times, Banda Singh Bahadur took full advantage of the conflicts of the 
party politics at the Mughal court as it happened at the time of the 
mutual differences between Rustamdil Khan and Muhammad Amin 
Khan. By then, Banda Singh Bahadur had been driven towards Jammu 
but on Rustamdil Khan's dismissal he got a respite and returned to the 
plains to carry out his plan. In this mutual suspicion, Muhammad Amin 
Khan had alleged that Rustamdil Khan had accepted a handsome 
amount as bribe from Banda Singh Bahadur and accordingly he let him 
go unpunished. The complaint had been upheld by the Emperor 
resulting in dismissal of Rustamdil Khan and putting him into the 
prison. If it is true that Banda Singh Bahadur greased the palm of such 
a high imperial officer, then no hope was left of success of imperial 
efforts against him. 

Banda Singh Bahadur continued to receive support of the people of 
the area in spite of the stern measures employed by the imperialists. 
Some people took full advantage of the greed of the imperial officials 
who indulged in selling provisions from the military establishments. On 
October 27, 1711, A.D., this report of corruption was brought to the 
notice of the Emperor who deputed the daroga of the topkhana to 
investigate. It was also reported that "some people purchased horses and 
ammunition to be delivered to the rebels and they carried the same by 
way of Kohistan. If somebody obstructed them, they pretended that they 
were taking the same for the Zamindars of the district". The Emperor 
ordered that investigations should be conducted in this regard. 46 The 
same day another report was submitted to the Emperor that stated: "The 
Hindu Fakirs, Yogis, Sanyasis and Bairagis conveyed the imperial news to 
the rebel Guru. The Emperor ordered that if that was proved in any case 
the alleged informer be murdered. He further ordered that Surbarah 
Khan Kotwal should turn out the Hindu Faqirs from the imperial 
camp." 47 These royal orders and court reports reveal that in spite of 
concerted efforts of the imperialists, Banda Singh Bahadur kept on his 
efforts to harass them and also continued to receive help from different 
sections of society. He very cleverly planted his men in the royal camp 
who kept him informed about the moves of the Emperor against him. 
Simultaneously, he was able to secure war material from the garrisons 
of the Mughals by means of bribing the concerned officials. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

So Banda Singh Bahadur gave a good account of gurriella warfare in 
the face of adverse circumstances created by well-equipped hordes of 
enemy forces. The Emperor had been kept fully informed about the 
day-to-day activities of the rebels and the action taken by the imperial 
officers engaged in the action against Banda Singh Bahadur and his men. 
Here, it would not be out of place to reproduce a news report which 
throws ample light on the history of the Sikhs in general and the role of 
Ajit Singh in it in particular. The report reads: "Ajit Singh (adopted) son 
of Guru Gobind Singh, who was staying with Sarbarah Khan, came to 
the Emperor and made an offering of nine ashrafis. The Emperor ordered 
that he could live wherever he pleased and he should keep association 
with Mahabat Khan Bahadur. Chak Guru (Amritsar) was conferred on 
Ajit Singh/' 48 

The contents of the report made it explicitly clear that the Emperor 
by conferring Amritsar on Ajit Singh, tried to sow the seeds of dissension 
among the Sikhs so as to weaken their struggle against the Emperor. But, 
due to the sterling qualities of leadership, Banda Singh Bahadur defied 
all his attempts in this direction. After the retreat of Raja Jai Singh and 
Raja Ajit Singh from Sadhaura and demise of the Emperor Bahadur Shah 
on February 28, 1712 A.D., Banda Singh Bahadur got ample opportunity 
to recapture Sadhaura and Lohgarh (Mukhlispur). This goes to the credit 
of inspiring leadership of Banda Singh Bahadur that he kept the Khalsa 
united and defied the mighty Mughal armies during the life time of 
Bahadur Shah. Banda Singh Bahadur's endeavour to liberate the toiling 
masses from the clutches of their tyrant Mughal officers had so much 
endeared him among the common people that they again flocked under 
his banner. When the sons of Bahadur Shah were busy in deciding the 
claimant to the throne on the banks of Ravi at Lahore, Muhammad Amin 
Khan also left his mission of chastisement of Banda Singh Bahadur 
unfinished and went to Lahore. Banda Singh Bahadur took full 
advantage Of the situation. 

Notes and References 

1. Irvine, William, The Later Mughals, p. 104. 

2. Taj-Din Diwan Buotat, Hafiz Khan Diwan, Hasan Riza Kotwal, Fakhar-ud-din 
Bakshi, Muhammad Tahir and Darwesh Muhammad Qazi. These names from 
Tarikh-i-Muhammad Shahi are quoted by Gokul Chand Narang, op. cit., p. 105. 

3. Irvine, op. cit., p. 104. 

Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 


4. When Bahadur Shah was marching into the Deccan against his brother Kam 
Bakhsh, Raja Jai Singh Kachhwaha and Ajit Singh Rathor had escaped from his 
camp near Mandeshwar on April 30, 1708, A.D., and had entered into an alliance 
with Raja Amar Singh of Udaipur to resist the Mughal authorities in Rajputana. 
The imperial forces sustained heavy losses in the bloody conflicts that followed 
and the Emperor was made to realise the necessity of adopting conciliatory 
measures to pacify the disturbances in the neighbourhood of the capital at a time 
when greater portion of the imperial forces was employed in far south. On his 
return from the expedition he thought of availing himself of the opportunity to 
reduce these insurrectionary chiefs. With this object in view, he marched into 
Rajputana and, on May 15, 1710, A.D., his army was encamped at Dandwa Serai 
on the banks of the Banas, 30 kos from Ajmer. The negotiations began and the 
letters of the "chief men" of the Rajas were presented on the 22nd. On May 26, the 
imperial camp and the army reached Toda. It was in these days that the gravity 
of the rebellion of the Sikhs in the Punjab was brought to the Emperor on May 
30, 1710, A.D. 

5. S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 16. 

6. Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 38. 

7. Akhbarat, May 23, 1710 A.D. 

8. Ibid., September 21, 1710 A.D. 

9. Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 38. 

10. Ibid. 

11. In July 1710 A.D., the Emperor appointed Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan the 
Governor of Sarhind. See Karam Singh, op. cit., p. 25. 

12. Isa Khan Manj was an important personality in the Doab. His grandfather, 
Bulaqi, had been a notorious dacoit, who had terrorised the whole of the Doaba. 
Isa Khan proved to be a worse beast. He had taken to robbing the caravans on 
the highways in place of raiding small places. He had, at the same time, 
developed intimate relations with the local rulers. He, thus, played safe, escaped 
punishment, for his crime, and was taken for one of the richest persons in the 
region. When the Sikh revolution began, he moved into Sultanpur under 
protection of Shamas Khan who asked him later to look after the Doaba region 
during his absence in Sarhind. He was next appointed the commissioner of the 
Doaba by imperial orders. Isa Khan inflicted the most terrible cruelties on the 
Sikhs who had then returned to the Doaba. He put to the sword every solitary 
Sikh who was caught moving in the area. 

13. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 111. 

14. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 18. 

15. Irvine, William, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 111. 

16. Muntakhab-ul-Litbab, Vol. II, pp. 669-70, Elliot and Dowson, Vol. VII, pp. 423-24. 

17. Kanwar Khan, quoted by Karam Singh, op. cit., p. 26. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

18. Quoted by Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 114. 

19. Khafi Khan, Vol. II, pp. 671-72. Quoted by H.R. Gupta, op. cit., p. 19. 

20. Khafi Khan, in Elliot and Dowson, op. cit., Vol. VII, p. 424. 

21. The Rajas of Srinagar and Nahan, particularly the latter, have generally been 
styled by the Muhammadan writers Barfi Raja or Icy kings. They were so-called 
because of their territories being in the ice-clad mountains, or because the Raja of 
Nahan used to send boat-loads of ice or barf as presents to - the Emperor and 
nobles of Delhi — from Tarikh-i-Muhammad Shah-Nadir-us-Zamani, quoted by 
Irvine, William, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 117. 

22. Kanwar Khan, quoted by Karam Singh, op. cit., p. 27. Ganda Singh, op. cit., 
pp. 121-22 

23. Elliot and Dowson, op. cit., Vol. VII, p. 424. 

24. Tarikh-i-lradat Khan, in Elliot and Dowson, op. cit., Vol. VII, pp. 555-56. 

25. At about this time Muhammad Khan came from Sarhind and presented to the 
Emperor six cartloads of Sikh heads. 

26. Kettle (symbol of the means to feed the poor), sword (symbol of power to protect 
the weak and helpless), victory and unhesitating patronage have been obtained 
from Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. 

27. One God! Victory to the sect. 

The new war cry introduced by Banda Singh. Later, as it was feared to be used 
for and replace the old Sikh salutation, it was rejected by the Khalsa in favour of 
Wahiguruji Ki Fateh. 

28. These words are used for the Guru in whose name he issued the letter. Some 
writers have misconstrued that he had used these words for himself and that he 
had tried to pose himself as Guru. But this does not stand the test of historical 
evidence. Here, in this document, the personality of the Guru is mentioned 
distinct from his own. He clearly enjoins that the Guru and not himself, is the 
saviour of the Khalsa. 

29. There is no injunction for or against the use of meat, fish, onion in the teachings 
of the Sikh religion. It is left to individual choice. Banda Singh's injunction 
against their use betrays the predominance of his old Bairagi vegetarianism over 
his mind in respect of food. Although the majority of the Sikhs are meat-eaters, 
there is no religious injunction for or against it. 

30. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 128. 

31. Ibid., p. 129. 

32. Ibid. 

33. Deol, G.S., op. cit., p. 78. 

34. Mohammad Harisi, Ibrat Namah, p. 43. a. quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 132. 

35. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 22. 

Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs 


36. Their bodies were removed to Kasur and buried there. This is quoted by Ganda 
Singh from Ibrat Namah of Harisi, op. cit., p. 135. 

37. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 23, Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 138. G.S. Deol, op. cit., p. 

38. See Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 140. 

"For a long time past some Sannyasis and Bairagis had a monastery of theirs near 
the imperial palace on the bank of the Ravi, where they practised religious 
austerity and devoted themselves to meditation. An Avadhuta woman from 
amongst the Sannyasis was absorbed in her meditation when some 
ungentlemanly, Muslims, out of bigotry, thrust a dagger into her heart and broke 
her skull . . . blood gushed out of the wound like water from a spring. The 
Hindus and Muhammadans present on this occasion were filled with sorrow, but 
on account of their partiality for Islam, none could move his tongue." Quoted 
from Tarikh-i-Mnhammad Shahi, 223 b. 

39. Tarikh-i-Muhammad Shahi, 223 b-224 b. Quoted by Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 141. 

40. See Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 142. Also see G.S. Deol, op. cit., p. 79. 

41. His corpse was prepared for burial and laid in a coffin by Maulvi Murad Ullah 
Mahfuz Khan and Abdul Qadir, but it lay unburied until the question of the 
successor to the throne had been decided. It was despatched to Delhi on April 11, 
1712, A.D., in the charge of Bibi Mehar Parwar, the Emperor's widow and of Chin 
Qilich Muhammad Khan. It arrived at Delhi on the May 15, 1712, A.D., when it 
was buried in the courtyard of the marble mosque erected by Aurangzeb near the 
shrine of Khwajah Qutab-ud-din Bakhtiar Kaki. 

42. Akhbarat, dated May 29, 1711 A.D., quoted by Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 45. 

43. Ibid., dated May 30, 1711 A.D. 

44. Fauja Singh, The Punjab Past and Present, Vol. XVI, No. 1, April 1982, p. 382. 

45. William Irvine, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 119- 

46. Akhbarat, dated October 28, 1711 A.D. 

47. Ibid., dated October 28, 1711 A.D. 

48. Ibid., dated December 30, 1711 A.D. 


The Struggle against Jahandar Shah 

The death of .Bahadur Shah was followed by the usual struggle among 
his four sons for the throne. In the civil war which occurred at Lahore on 
March 14 to 17, 1712, A.D., prince Azim-us-Shan lost his life as a result 
of his elephant being wounded and throwing him into the river Ravi. 
Jahandar Shah, the eldest son of Bahadur Shah, killed his remaining two 
brothers (Jahan Shah and Rafi-us-Shan) in the battle which was fought 
on March 27 to 28, 1712, A.D., ultimately, Jahandar Shah ascended the 
throne on March 29, 1712, A.D. His reign began with a series of 
executions and imprisonments, but it did not last long. Ten months later, 
he himself was defeated by Farrukh Siyar, son of Azim-us-Shan. With the 
help of Sayyed brothers, Hussain Ali and Abdulla, Farrukh Siyar put his 
uncle (Jahandar Shah) to death on February 11, 1713, A.D., to avenge the 
death of his father and he himself ascended the throne of Delhi. 

On the death of Bahadur Shah, Muhammad Amin Khan returned to 
Lahore to take part in the struggle for succession, and the Khalsa emerged 
from their retreats to establish once again their lost power. Banda Singh 
Bahadur availed himself of the opportunity and occupied Sadhaura 
without any loss of time in early February 1712, A.D. The short period 
in which he came and conquered Sadhaura is simply astounding. 
Commenting on this, Ganda Singh writes: "The agility with which he 
moved in the craggy mountains, appears to have been wonderful; from 

The Struggle against Jahandar Shah 


the vicinity of Jammu he managed to reach Sadhaura in a marvellously 
short time." 1 

After capturing Sadhaura, Banda Singh Bahadur went to Lohgarh 
and got it repaired, and once again it become his residence or 
headquarter. 2 He once again mustered his Sikh veterans under his 
banner and strongly fortified Sadhaura and Lohgarh. Taking full 
advantage of the confusion created due to the war of succession, Banda 
Singh Bahadur employed his men to restore the previously enjoyed 
dignity of Lohgarh. Many of the hill states were reduced to subjugation 
and their rulers paid tributes into the Sikh treasury. 3 Banda Singh 
Bahadur made elaborate preparations for resistance against the imperial 
forces by strongly garrisoning Sadhaura and Lohgarh. From the first 
ridge up to the wall of Lohgarh itself, they had built fifty-two defensive 
posts, arranged in such a manner that each protected the other, thus 
exposing an assailant to a deadly fire throughout his advance. Adequate 
arrangement was made for storing ammunition and foodgrains and 
other necessities at Sadhaura and Lohgarh. He also rehearsed guerilla 
warfare to be waged against the imperial army 

Jahandar Shah became the Emperor at Lahore by murdering his 
brothers and, like other officers, Muhammad Amin Khan Chin also 
waited upon him for soliciting his posting orders. Describing the 
meeting, official news writer wrote on March 20, 1712, A.D., that 
Muhammad Amin Khan Bahadur had gone for the punishment of the 
rebel Guru (Banda Singh Bahadur). During this time he came to the 
Emperor and paid his respects to him and made an offering of one 
thousand mohars and one thousand rupees. Special khilats were conferred 
on him and his four companions. 4 He was again drafted to punish the 
rebel Sikhs. For this purpose the Emperor issued orders on March 29, 
1712, A.D. According to this, "nine thousand troopers under the 
command of Muhammad Amin Khan Bahadur were drafted for the 
punishment of the rebel Guru (Banda Singh Bahadur)". 5 But he did not 
proceed immediately as is clear from another news report dated April 5, 
1712, A.D. On this day the Emperor called him in his prayer room, 
"awarded a special khilat along with a turban, decorated sword and an 
increase in his rank." He was wished well for his proposed campaign at 
the head of ten thousand sawars" against Banda Singh Bahadur. 6 He did 
not proceed immediately: perhaps he wanted his rank to be increased 
and he requested the Emperor and his wish was granted as is evident 
from the above quoted news report. Emperor Jahandar Shah made him 
head of ten thousand sawars, as against the earlier order of nine 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

thousand sawars. But it seems that still Muhammad Amin Khan was not 
satisfied with the number of soldiers and horses made available to him 
and he again requested Jahandar Shah for granting him more men and 
horses. This also made clear that Sikh rebellion was a very serious 
rebellion which could not be crushed with meagre resources. 

So Mohammad Amin Khan made preparations to send Muaraf Khan 
as a leader of the vanguard on April 9, 1712, A.D. It seems that Jahandar 
Shah was very eager to control the Sikh rebellion as is evident from his 
anxiety in the matter. When preparations were on for starting on his 
journey to Delhi, he kept on ordering early despatch of imperial forces 
against the rebels. On April 12, 1712, A:D., the Emperor ordered that Raja 
Mohkam Singh along with his son be posted to the army of Muhammad 
Amin Khan. Muaraf Khan and Mohkam Singh were ordered to depart 
for stations of their posting. They were given the ranks of five thousand 
Zat and four thousand sawar each. Seeing the gravity of the situation and 
seriousness of the rebellion, on April 23, 1712 A.D. "the Emperor ordered 
that one thousand and five hundred horsemen at an average monthly 
salary of twenty-five rupees, according to the prevalent practice, and two 
thousand foot soldiers at the average monthly pay of four rupees per 
mensem, be deputed to join him (Amin Khan)". 7 Thus every available 
man of the imperial army who could be spared from Delhi, and the 
troops of the province of Lahore were placed at his disposal. 

Jahandar Shah reached Sarhind on May 20, 1712, A.D., where a 
deputation of the people of the Chakla of Sarhind waited upon him and 
requested to provide them security against Banda Singh Bahadur's men. 
They said: "When the Emperor would return to Akbarabad, the rebels 
(Sikhs) would wander about in the district of Sarhind. Thus there would 
be no security for the people there. If due care was paid to them they 
would show firmness in staying on, otherwise they would like to move 
away from that place along with his Majesty. The Emperor told them that 
they should rest assured that due attention would be paid to their 
security." 8 The same type of complaint was lodged by the people of 
Thanesar on May 29, 1712, A.D., when the Emperor reached the town. 
They told him that when Banda Singh Bahadur was "plundering their 
habitations, most of the vagabonds who had joined the Nanak 
worshippers supplied all sorts of provisions to the rebels. They gave 
trouble to most of the Muslims". 9 Here it is worth noting that common 
people were, helping Banda Singh Bahadur in his fight against the 
imperialists and they did not give trouble to all the Muslims but 
punished only those Muslims who sided with the imperialists. The 

The Struggle against Jahandar Shah 


imperialists gave an exaggerated account of the activities of the rebels. 
But these tales of woes of the people infuriated the Emperor who 
ordered his attendant Rai Manu to go to the town of Thanesar 
accompanied by Sarabarah Khan Kotwal along with a contingent to 
capture all those people who had declared themselves to be the Sikhs. 
Seventeen persons were arrested and punished. The Emperor assured 
the people of Thanesar that Imadat-ul-Mulk would shortly send his 
forces and make the remaining rebels captive. Then the Emperor 
marched on his journey to Delhi and Agra. He reached Narela on June 
7, 1712, A.D., and issued an order that the Emperor "would enter the fort 
of the capital (Lai Quila) and would sit on the throne on the 10th of June, 
1712 A.D". 10 On June 10, 1712, A.D., a new coin was given currency and 
the Emperor sat on the throne in the Diwan-i-Khas of Red Fort. On this 
auspicious occasion it was brought to the notice of the Emperor that the 
rebel Guru (Banda Singh Bahadur) had set up his thana in the 
neighbourhood of Chhatta Ambala. But the Faujdar and the Zamindars 
got together and the thana of the rebel leader was removed. 11 Alarmed at 
the news about the audacity of Banda Singh Bahadur, Jahandar Shah 
took steps to mobilise the support of the rulers of the hills. He sent 
Khilats and farman to Jagat Chand, the ruler of Kumaon, ordering him to 
punish Banda Singh Bahadur. 12 He set Bhup Prakash, the ruler of Nahan, 
free and gave him Khilat 13 and gave diwani of the army of Muhammad 
Amin Khan to Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan, Faujdar of Sarhind. An 
addition was also made in his mansabdari rank. His nephew named 
Abu-ul-Qasim was appointed to deputyship of the Faujdar of Sarhind 
and he was given a rank of four hundred. 14 He sent Isa Khan and 
Muhammad Daulat Khan to reinforce Muhammad Amin Khan Bahadur 
so that they could punish the rebels. 15 He also ordered Jagat Chand, the 
ruler of Kumaon (Garhwal), to march against Banda Singh Bahadur, and 
the ruler of Srinagar (Garhwal) to collaborate with one another. 16 Thus, 
Jahandar Shah took every possible step to bring under control the 
situation created by Banda Singh Bahadur and his associates. 17 

Mohammad Amin Khan and Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan (Faujdar of 
Sarhmd) arrived in the vicinity of Sadhaura taking along with a large 
army. Both these generals threw a siege around Sadhaura. For several 
months the two commanders maintained a close watch on Sadhaura and 
the fort of Lohgarh but, in spite of all efforts, they failed to make any 
effect upon the besieged. The Khalsa stood fast their ground and repulsed 
the repeated attacks of the imperial forces. Banda Singh Bahadur was a 
soldier of the first rank who faced the mighty Mughal imperial force for 
many months with a handful of his warriors. He sent out his three or 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

four divisions from the fort of Sadhaura to attack by surprise, 
unexpectedly at different times and at different places daily. As soon as 
the imperial troops tried to advance towards Sadhaura or Lohgarh, they 
raised alarm and the Sikhs came out from all directions and fell upon the 
Mughals. These sorties met with success against the Mughals and kept 
them at bay. 18 

When the war of succession was going on between Jahandar Shah 
and his three brothers at Lahore, taking advantage of the situation, the 
Khalsa constructed a stone and brick fort at Sadhaura, from where they 
offered a stout resistance to the imperial forces and maintained their 
position in spite of all the efforts of Amin Khan and Zain-ud-din Ahmad 
Khan. Muhammad Amin Khan constructed an earthen fortress (Kachi 
Garhi) on the otherside of Sadhaura where Banda Singh Bahadur had 
constructed a pucca garhi (fortress built with stone and bricks) at about a 
distance of one kos. Reporting this, Muhammad Amin Khan wrote to the 
Emperor that Banda Singh Bahadur was staying there in his pucca garhi. 
"He came out every day. The imperial troopers engaged the Sikhs in a 
skirmish. He had come out of the hills on the 17th of August, 1712 A.D. 
The Mughal forces reached there and engaged in fighting with small 
weapons. Many rebels were killed and many of the royal soldiers also 
died or were injured/' 19 It seems that Muhammad Amin tried to hide his 
failure to capture Banda Singh Bahadur or his fortresses, and lamented 
the inadequacy of arms and men at his command. He continued to write: 
"For want of more men the Mughal personnel were very much in 
trouble." 20 In the same way, he again wrote that he "was hoping to be 
reinforced with two big guns for the punishment of the rebel Guru 
(Banda Singh Bahadur). His request was accepted". 21 The Emperor 
ordered Shujah Ali Khan Bahadur, Darogha-i-Topkhana, to provide the 
needed guns to Muhammad Amin Khan. On the other front, Bhup 
Prakash, the ruler of Nahan, wrote to Khan Firoz Jung that the forces of 
Banda Singh Bahadur had entered his district. He sent his contingents 
against the Sikhs and fighting took place. Many of the rebels were killed. 
According to the estimate of the Nahan ruler, Banda Singh Bahadur 
"intended to go towards the hills. A horde was sent to gear up the 
Zamindar." 22 But this could not deter Banda Singh Bahadur from starting 
new troubles in other areas. 

Banda Singh Bahadur wanted to divert the attention of the imperial 
forces by enlarging the sphere of his activities. So, he sent a few Sikhs to 
invade the town of Chhat Sarkar which was being protected by Abu-ud- 
Qasim, the deputy of Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan. Abu-ud-Qasim ran 

The Struggle against Jahandar Shah 


away without facing the Khalsa He left the town at the mercy of God. 
"This emboldened the Sikhs who collected material resources for 
carrying on their fight from other parganas of the Chakla of Sarhind and 
the agents of the Faujdar were incapable of punishing the rebels." Zain- 
ud-din Ahmad Khan, who was with Muhammad Amin Khan at 
Sadhaura, also ''failed to take speedy action. Thus, all the Chaklas of 
Sarhind were ruined and the rebels had set up their thanas at many 
places". 23 This report throws ample light on the helplessness of the 
imperial forces against the followers of Banda Singh Bahadur, who had 
risen to a man to get their rights from the ruling class. When some area 
went under the control of the men of Banda Singh Bahadur, who fully 
protected the life and property of the people by establishing police posts, 
it was described by the imperialists as "ruined". 

Thus, to suppress the Sikh rebellion under the leadership of Banda 
Singh Bahadur, Jahandar Shah employed mighty forces under able royal 
generals like Amin Khan and Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan. It is true that 
due to fear of rebellion on the part of his nephew Farrukh Siyar, who was 
at Patna at that time, Jahandar Shah himself could not come to crush the 
Sikh rebellion, but he had taken adequate steps to quell the Sikh revolt. 
In fact, no Mughal Emperor could ever tolerate that anyone should cause 
disorder and confusion in any part of the Empire. The general belief 
about Jahandar Shah is that he did not try to establish administrative 
control on his Empire. It may be true but, at least in the case of Punjab, 
he took strong measures to quell the Sikh rising and never delayed 
supply of additional forces and artillery to reinforce Muhammad Amin 
Khan. Even when he was at Lahore, he had re-appointed Muhammad 
Amin Khan Chin to chastise Banda Singh Bahadur by taking ten 
thousand sawars. Subsequently, Raja Mohkam Singh and his son were 
drafted to join Amin Khan along with their armies. On April 23, 
1712, A.D., permission was given to him to recruit one thousand and 
five hundred Sawars and two thousand foot soldiers. On May 22, 
1712, A.D., when Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan, Faujdar of Sarhind, waited 
upon the Emperor, he was ordered that eight thousand fresh horsemen 
be deployed to kill Banda Singh Bahadur and then capture Sadhaura and 
Lohgarh. On May 29, 1712, A.D., he issued orders to Imadat-ul-Mulk to 
send his forces to punish the followers of Banda Singh Bahadur. Taking 
these evidences into account, one can easily guess the state of mind of 
Jahandar Shah who never underestimated the power of the Sikhs under 
Banda Singh Bahadur. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

In spite of all the efforts of the imperial forces, the siege continued for 
several months. They launched a series of attacks, but each time they 
were beaten back by the Khalsa, who stood fast at their positions and the 
Mughal forces failed to affect the besieged Khalsa. At last, towards the 
end of the year 1712 A.D., when Jahandar Shah moved towards 
Akbarabad (Agra) to oppose the advance of Farrukh Siyar, Muhammad 
Amin Khan was recalled to join the imperial camp, but Zain-ud-din 
Ahmad Khan had been left there to continue the siege to the best of his 
ability. 24 But Zain-ud-din- Ahmad Khan could not accomplish anything. 
Banda Singh Bahadur and the Khalsa, at this time, had a little respite, but 
the Khalsa did not waste this time in idleness. During this period Banda 
Singh Bahadur and the Khalsa took the opportunity to strengthen the 
Sadhaura fort which was constructed a few months ago. Commenting 
upon the spirit of the Sikhs, Ganda Singh writes: "The fighting spirit and 
the power of resistance of the Sikh garrison in the fort of Sadhaura was 
simply wonderful. They would continue their fire upon the enemy even 
while they were cooking and eating, unmindful of the inclemency of 
weather/' 25 

Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan thought that in this way they would not 
be able to conquer the Sikhs. Finding that his cannon-balls made no 
impression on the fort walls, he advanced his trenches within forty or 
fifty yards of the fort. Here he formed a battery, placed a heavy siege-gun 
in position, and opened incessant fire upon the Sikhs. Though this fire 
had no effect on the Sikhs, Banda Singh and his comrades resolved that 
the gun should be stealthily removed from that place. The Khalsa dug out 
a subterranean passage exactly opposite the position where the cannon 
stood, leaving only a foot or two of earth at the outer end. The oxen and 
ropes used in dragging their carts were held in readiness. On a dark, 
rainy night, when nothing could be seen or heard on account of heavy 
rain, the besiegers dared not put their heads outside the tents. The Sikhs 
found the opportunity to drag the cannon in. At midnight they pierced 
through the remaining wall of earth and ranged yokes of bullocks, one 
before the other, in the dugout passage. Then a few Sikhs, swam across 
the moat of the fort, in which the water was rushing down with great 
force and reached the besieger's earthen battery. They tied their ropes 
firmly to the gun-carriage and crossed back in the same manner to their 
own safe position. The bullocks then began to pull. The cannon with its 
carriage was set in motion and rolled down towards the underground 
passage. But, unfortunately, on reaching the bottom, the ropes tied to 
them broke off and the gun and carriage fell apart, causing a loud noise 
which roused the sleepy sentinels. The disappearance of the cannon 
caused a confusion in the besiegers' camp, and they ran in all directions 
to search for the gun. Through the mud and mire, Zain-ud-din soon 

The Struggle against Jahandar Shah 


arrived on the spot in a confused state. He was on foot and without a 
torch, the water in some places coming up to his waist, and a heavy 
shower of rain pouring from above. He could not order the torches to be 
lighted as they would expose him to the fire of the Sikhs and without 
light nothing could be seen. However, after much search it was found 
that the cannon and its carriage were lying upside down in the ditch at 
the foot of the earthwork. Zain-ud-din now collected his senses and 
offered rewards of fifty rupees each to over hundred camp-followers if 
they would recover the cannon. And it was with much difficulty that 
they dragged it out and removed it to a place of safety. 26 After this 
incident Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan kept strict vigilance on the activities 
of the Khalsa and thus the siege of the fortress of Sadhaura continued for 
some more time. In the meantime, Farrukh Siyar emerged victorious in 
the contest with his uncle Jahandar Shah on December 31, 1712 A.D., and 
became Emperor. Farrukh Siyar in order to put more life into the 
expedition, made a change in the command with the change in the 
governorship of Lahore. 

Thus Jahandar Shah never neglected the affairs of Punjab, though 
even when he himself was in trouble and fighting with Farrukh-Siyar, he 
called only Amin Khan Chin back from Sadhaura. In spite of the 
emergency, he left Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan at Sadhaura to continue the 
campaign and siege of Sadhaura because from the very beginning of his 
reign Jahandar Shah was very much aware of the seriousness of the Sikh 
rebellion under Banda Singh Bahadur and made adequate arrangements 
to suppress it. But Banda Singh Bahadur and his bold and stout 
comrades kept the imperial forces busy throughout his reign, which 
lasted about ten months, and nullified all efforts of the Mughal nobles to 
liquidate Banda Singh Bahadur. 

Notes and References 

1. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 149. 

2. Lohgarh was the fort and headquarter of Banda Singh Bahadur but not the 
capital of Sikh state, established under his leadership. See chapter 3. 

3. Ganda Singh, "Banda Singh Bahadur, his life and place of execution", the article 
published in the Punjab Past and Present, Vol. IX-II, Patiala, October, 1975, p. 455. 

4. Akhbarat, dated March 20, 1712 A. D. 

5. Ibid., dated March 29, 1712 A.D. 

6. Ibid., dated April 5, 1712 A.D. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

7. Ibid., dated April 23, 1712 A.D. 

8. Ibid., dated May 20, 1712 A.D. 

9. Ibid., dated May 29, 1712 A.D. 

10. Ibid., dated June 10, 1712 A.D. 

11. Ibid. 

12. Ibid., dated June 13, 1712 A.D. 

13. Ibid., dated July 2, 1712 A.D. 

14. Jfod., dated July 12, 1712 A.D. 

15. Ibid., dated July 15, 1712 A.D. 

16. Ibid., dated July 15, 1712 A.D. 

17. Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 57. 

18. Ibid., p. 59. 

19. Akhbarat, dated September 1, 1712 A.D. 

20. Ibid. 

21. Ibid., dated September 8, 1712 A.D. 

22. Ibid., dated October 2, 1712 A.D. 

23. Ibid., dated October 15, 1712 A.D. 

24. Harisi, 44a, quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 150. 

25. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 151. 

26. Irvine William, The Later Mughals, pp. 308-09. 


Last Encounter 

The struggle between Jahandar Shah and Farrukh Siyar resulted in the 
defeat Qanuary 10, 1713, A.D.) and murder (February 10, 1713, A.D.) of 
Jahandar Shah. 1 On his accession Farrukh Siyar found that the Sikh 
power had been constantly rising in the Punjab for some years. When 
Amin Khan was requisitioned at the capital by Jahandar Shah to check 
Farrukh Siyar, who was advancing from Patna towards Akbarabad 
(Agra), leaving Zain-ud-din-Ahmad Khan to continue the siege of 
Sadhaura, Muhammad Amin Khan left for the capital in December 1712 
A.D. During this time Banda Singh Bahadur made rapid strides in 
gaining power and territory in the Sarhind division. The Sikhs had 
established their adrriinistrative control over almost all the chdklas of 
Sarhind by setting up their thanas at many places, by October 15, 1712, 
A.D. 2 The followers of Banda Singh Bahadur were so bold and 
indomitable that they nullified all attempts of the besiegers of the 
fortress of Sadhaura and made every effort to further strengthen their 
defences and increase their stores of supplies from the eastern plain 
region, especially from the recently occupied territory which was not far 
from Delhi, the imperial capital of India. The reports of the Sikh activities 
were being regularly sent to the imperial capital. Farrukh Siyar realized 
that in the Sarhind division of the province of Delhi, the respect and fear 
which the imperial name used to inspire in the, hearts of men, had ceased 
to move them due to the successes attained by Banda Singh Bahadur. 
Every Sikh fancied himself of importance and entertained thoughts of 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

shaking off constraints and of not only declaring his own independence 
but also promising protection to all those who defied the imperial 
officers. It did not take Farrukh Siyar long to make short work of the 
Sikhs led by Banda Singh Bahadur. 

The reign of Farrukh Siyar, which began with a series of murders and 
a terrible famine in the country, is memorable for his cruel policy which 
he adopted towards the Sikhs. On the recall of Muhammad Amin Khan 
towards Agra, Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan had been left there to continue 
the campaign, but he could not accomplish anything. Farrukh Siyar, 
having secured himself on the throne of Delhi, directed his attention to 
the affairs in the Chakla of Sarhind. To put a new life in the campaign 
against the Sikhs, on February 22, 1713, A.D., Farrukh Siyar appointed 
Abd-us-Samad Khan Diler-i-Jang 3 as the Governor of Lahore in place of 
Zabardast Khan, and Zakriya Khan, son of Abd-us-Samad Khan, as the 
Faujdar of Jammu. At the time of his departure, the Emperor instructed 
him to expel Banda Singh Bahadur from Sadhaura, or if possible to 
destroy him altogether. When he arrived at Sadhaura, the siege laid by 
Zain-ud-din Ahmed had not advanced much. Banda Singh Bahadur 
himself occupied the fort of Lohgarh, while his followers held Sadhaura. 
Finding that he could not successfully attack both the positions, 
Sadhaura and Lohgarh, at the same time, Abd-us-Samad Khan thought 
it advisable to attack them one after the other. The combined forces of 
Abd-us-Samad Khan, Zain-ud-din Ahmed Khan and the other Mughal 
commanders, like Inam Khan and Baqa Beg Khan, who had been sent by 
the Emperor to reinforce the new Governor and an innumerable host of 
local militia surrounded the fort of Sadhaura from all sides on June 28, 
1713, A.D. Now, when Banda Singh Bahadur saw that the Sikhs in 
Sadhaura would not be able to hold out for long for want of rations, he 
sent out three or four divisions every other day and sometimes every day 
from Lohgarh for their relief. On July 2, 1713, A.D., one such detachment 
of the Sikhs was sent by Banda Singh to relieve the Sikhs of Sadhaura, 
a division of the imperial troops proceeded to obstruct their passage. In 
the fight that ensued, many Sikhs were done to death or wounded. From 
amongst the commanders of the Emperor, Baqa Beg Khan and his 
brother Inam Khan and several others fell dead in the field. 4 The death 
of important Mughal generals like Baqa Beg Khan created a sense of fear 
among the imperial forces. Their officers held a counsel and decided to 
attack the undefended side of the fortress after elaborate preparations 
had been made. They prepared entrenchments near the fortress of 
Sadhaura and got prepared ladders with seven hundred wooden steps. 5 
But they did not dare to attack the Sikhs during the rainy season. 6 

Last Encounter 


The Sikhs held the fortress of Sadhaura tenaciously. The imperial 
forces tightened their siege of Sadhaura from all sides. On one side of the 
fortress camped Abd-us-Samad Khan, while Zain-ud-din Ahmed Khan 
camped on the other side. The third and fourth sides were guarded by 
the Mughals and the local militia. To terrorize them, Banda Singh 
Bahadur "sent out from Lohgarh three or four divisions to attack by 
surprise. ... As soon as these troops were seen dimly in the dust they 
raised, the besiegers came out of all the four sides and fell vigorously 
upon them. These sorties met with no success and supplies also began 
to run short". 7 The situation for the Sikhs besieged in the fortress of 
Sadhaura became very grim due to fear of exhaustion of foodstuffs and 
war material, and all their efforts to maintain supply line were cut off by 
the Mughal forces. So their already insufficient stores in the fort of 
Sadhaura were now soon exhausted and they were driven to the only 
alternative of evacuating the fort for a better position in Lohgarh. At last, 
in the first week of October 1713, A.D., they rushed out in force and 
made a determined sally upon the Zamindari militia. Hired levies could 
hardly stand against self-sacrificing warriors. It was not easy for them to 
oppose successfully the desperate Khalsa who cut through their lines and 
escaped without much loss, 8 The report was submitted to the Emperor 
that the imperial forces emerged victorious and captured the fortress of 
Sadhaura. His majesty was very happy to hear the news. He rewarded 
the Subedar with a farman and a special Khilat. 9 

On the evacuation of the fort of Sadhaura, Abd-us-Samad Khan and 
Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan followed the Sikhs to the Fort of Lohgarh. The 
intelligent Banda Singh Bahadur now knew that they would not be in a 
position to resist the imperial force. So he decided to escape. On the 
arrival of his followers from Sadhaura, Banda Singh Bahadur retreated, 
as per his already chalked out plan, into the hills and soon disappeared 
beyond the reach of the imperial force. For the fear of the Sikhs turning 
back upon their heels and pouncing upon their pursuers, their pursuit as 
it seems was delayed by several days and later, when a search was made 
through the hill country, no trace could be found of them. The fall of 
Sadhaura and the escape of Banda Singh Bahadur and the Sikhs were 
reported to the Emperor at Delhi on October 9, 1713, A.D. 10 It was 
conveyed to the Emperor by Zakariya Khan, son of Abd-us-Samad Khan 
on December 13, 1713, A.D. He took 900 heads of the Sikhs after the 
capture of the fortress. The heads of the Sikhs, were placed on the spears 
and exhibited in the Chandni Chowk Bazaar. The Emperor witnessed the 
sight. Zakariya Khan was given a Khilat, a jigah and a banner. 
Subsequently, he was awarded a drum and given an additional rank of 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

five hundred Sawar for his brilliant role against Banda Singh Bahadur. 
His father was also warmly received in the court and profusely rewarded 
and honoured, when a few months later he also arrived at Delhi in 
person after the termination of an expedition towards Multan, Mir Jumla 
was sent out to receive him in the capital. He was presented to his 
Majesty on March 6, 1714, A.D., receiving the usual gifts and on the 
March 10, 1714, A.D., he received a dress of honour (Khilat), head dress 
(sarpech), a jewelled sword, a horse and an elephant, and was posted to 
the army then proceeding to Rajputana. 11 Farrukh Siyar appointed Amin 
Beg and Rahmat Ullah, the mace-bearers of Abdul Latif Khan, Naib 
Subedar of Muradabad, to punish Banda Singh Bahadur. 

The decline of the Sikh power and the official persecution of the 
Sikhs gave an impetus to the Muhammadans, officials and others, all 
over the country, to persecute them remorselessly. The oppression was 
felt the most in the Majha and the Riarki, where almost every 
Muhammadan considered it his secred duty to add, in whatever way he 
could, to the miseries of the Sikhs. The parganas of Kalanaur, Batala and 
Kahnuwan in the present district of Gurdaspur had, for about a century 
and a half, been the strongholds of Muhammadan power and the 
residents of these places have been second to none in their Islamic zeal, 12 
Most of the people who led a wave of terror against the Sikhs, came to 
the village of Kiri Pathan. The Sikhs of this area, tired of Muslim tyranny, 
decided to resist the tyrants. Therefore, they organized themselves under 
the leadership of S. Jagat Singh. They fell upon the village and managed 
to enter the garhi or the fortress of the Pathan. The Pathans offered stiff 
resistance but were soon over-powered by the Sikhs. In the fight, 
Mohammad Ishaq was killed. The inhabitants of this village and other 
neighbouring villages, had deposited their belongings in the fortress, 
which fell into the hands of the Singhs. Two weeks after the occurrence 
of this event, Abd-us-Samad Khan and his son Zakriya Khan returned 
from Rajputana to Delhi on June 26, 1714, A.D. Two nobles were 
despatched to the Punjab with orders for the chastisement of the Sikhs. 
Abd-us-Samad Khan then returned to Lahore on August 26, 1714, A.D. 
A report was received that the Sikhs numbering 7000 had attacked Ropar. 
The Deputy of Zain-ud-din Ahmed Khan of Sarhind met them and 
organized a good defence. It is said that two hundred Sikhs were killed. 
The remaining, having no other alternative open to them, retreated. 

Farrukh Siyar, the Emperor, pressed hard the Sikhs by appointing 
royal officers with adequate powers to crush the Sikh rebels after the fall 
of Sadhaura and Lohgarh. They chased the Sikhs out of the plains of the 

Last Encounter 


Punjab. Banda Singh Bahadur escaped towards Jammu hills and chose a 
secluded place on the left bank of the Chenab, about two miles south- 
east of Bhabbar village. The place is now known as Dera Baba Banda Singh 
Bahadur. Here he stayed from October 1713, A.D., to February 1715, A.D., 
and married for the second time Bibi Sahib Kaur, the daughter of Shiv 
Ram Khatri of Wazirabad. A son named Ranjit Singh was born to them 
in due course. Sahib Kaur stayed there in seclusion when Banda Singh 
Bahadur came down to plains to re-engage himself in the liberation 
struggle against the Mughals and subsequently was put to death. 
Khidmat Talab Khan 13 was about this time appointed the Faujdar of 
Sarhind in place of Zain-ud-din Ahmad Khan. He employed a large force 
to watch the appearance of Sikhs from the hills. But as the Sikhs had lost 
their strong places and their stores of food and fodder in the plains, and 
the supporters of the Mughal cause in the country had risen up against 
them throughout the land, it became impossible for them to subsist. They 
had, therefore, no other course left but to retire to the hills. 

In early March 1715, A.D., Banda Singh Bahadur collected his Sikhs 
from their hide-outs. They then reappeared in the plains towards 
Kalanaur. The news of their appearance reached the Faujdar of Kalanaur, 
Suhrab Khan, and he wasted no time and collected a large force of 
mercenaries, religious fanatics and levies from the pargana and his 
deputies like Qanungo Santokh Rai and Anokh Rai, brother of the latter. 
The Sikhs fell upon them as a hungry lion falls on its prey. Suhrab Khan, 
Santokh Rai and Anokh Rai could not stand the fierce onslaught of the 
Singhs and ran away in order to save their lives. Thus Kalanaur fell into 
the hands of the Singhs. The old and tyrannical officials of the pargana 
were removed and in their place Sikh officials were appointed. A 
sufficient number of horsemen and footmen were left here for the 
maintenance of law and order. Banda Singh Bahadur next proceeded 
towards Batala, passing through Achal. The Faujdar of Batala, Shaikh 
Muhammad Day am, had made the necessary preparations. So he, 
accompanied by his force, came to meet Banda's force. A pitched battle 
was fought by the parties which lasted six hours and "there was great 
bloodshed on both sides''. The Zamindars of the pargana of Batala could 
not stand the dash of the Sikhs. The prominent among the nobility of 
Batala were killed in the battle. Eventually, Muhammad Dayam was 
defeated and he fled to Bharowal. Batala and its neighbouring villages 
were then occupied by the Singhs. According to Ganda Singh, on the 
defeat of Muhammad Dayam and the capture of Batala, "most of the 
residents, rich and poor, forsook their homes and sought shelter in the 
neighbouring villages with their relatives. Many went to Lahore and 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

many having no place of refuge went towards the hills of Chamba and 
towards Dasuha." 14 

It was reported to the Emperor on March 14, 1715, A.D., that Banda 
Singh Bahadur "came along with his forces and plundered Kalanaur, 
Batala and Raipur. None from the Faujdars and the Zamindars came for 
chastising the rebels." At that time Abd-us-Samad Khan had gone to 
control the rebellion of Bhattis and Dogras. "The Emperor ordered that 
Bakshi-ul-Mulk Muhammad Amin Khan Bahadur should write to Abd- 
us-Samad Khan that wherever he might be he should come back to give 
condign punishment to the rebel Guru (Banda Singh Bahadur)". Farrukh 
Siyar was so much perturbed to learn about the ravages of the Sikhs that 
he requisitioned the services of Qamaruddin Khan, asking him to "lead 
his forces to punish the rebel Guru", The same day, i.e., March 15, 1715, 
A.D., the Emperor told Afrasiyab Khan that "he should get ready as his 
Majesty himself wanted to go against the rebels. The Emperor ordered 
Bakshi-ul-Mulk that Raja Odeep Singh, Raja Gopal Singh, Zafar Khan, 
Prithi Chand, son of Raja Duleep Singh Bundela, and also 12,450 sawars 
should accompany them. The roll of the army should be prepared". But 
the Emperor did never go in person to lead his forces against the Sikhs. 
Instead, strong contingents under the command of Abd-us-Samad Khan, 
Khidmat Talab Khan, Faujdar of Sarhind, Ahmad Khan, Faujdar of 
Gujarat, Iradatmand Khan, Faujdar of Amanabad, Nur Muhammad 
Khan, ruler of Aurangabad and Parsarur, Shaikh Muhammad Daim and 
Subrah Khan, Sayyid Hifz Ali Khan of Pargana Haibatpur Patti, Raja 
Pharab Bhim Singh Kamboh and Hardam, son of Raja Dharab Deo 
Jharotha, were pressed into service against Banda Singh Bahadur. The 
Emperor ordered Abd-us-Samad Khan that "the rebel leader should 
either be killed or captured alive". 15 Emperor Farrukh Siyar sent a strong 
force of 20,000 troops from Delhi, under Qamar-ud-din Khan. He was 
joined by 5000 troops from Sarhind. All the three Turani leaders were 
related to one another. The mother of Qamar-ud-din and wife of Abdus 
Samad Khan were real sisters. Zakariya Khan, son of Abd-us-Samad 
Khan, was married to the sister of Qamar-ud-din. Thus the campaign 
became a family affair of the Turani party. 

Banda Singh Bahadur was also very much aware of the exigencies of 
the time and, therefore, he decided to throw up a mud fortification at Kot 
Mirza Jan, a small village between Kalanaur and Batala. But before its 
defences could be complete, the combined forces of the above Faujdars 
under the chief command of Abd-us-Samad Khan and his deputy Arif 
Beg fell upon the Sikhs. "Banda Singh Bahadur," says the author of the 


Last Encounter 215 

Siyar-ul-Mutakherin, "stood his ground to the amazement of all, and in 
the engagement he fought so heroically that he was very near giving a 
complete defeat to the imperial general, for altogether vigorously 
pursued, he retired from post to post, like a savage of wilderness from 
thicket to thicket, losing endlessly his men and occasioning losses to his 
persuers. //16 And, according to Khafi Khan, "The infidels fought so 
fiercely that the army of Islam was nearly overpowered and over and 
over again they showed the greatest daring/' 17 But they had no place of 
defence and were, therefore, forced to evacuate their positions and fall 
back upon Gurdaspur. 18 

In fact, Gurdaspur was the place where Banda Singh Bahadur 
retreated. The actual place was the old village of Gurdas Nangal, now a 
heap of ruins commonly known as Bande wali theh, one mile from the 
present village of Gurdas Nangal and about four miles from 
Gurdaspur. 19 According to Sohan Singh, Banda took shelter here in a 
building and not in a fort, called the Haveli of Bhai Duni Chand, and this 
statement is also endorsed by Ganda Singh. This Haveli had a strong wall 
all around, it was spacious enough to accommodate all his men. 
According to Hari Ram Gupta, it accommodated only 1250 men with a 
small number of horses. The other Sikhs who could not be lodged 
therein tried to flee in all directions. They fell an easy prey to the fury of 
the Mughal army. 20 According to Khafi Khan, three or four thousand of 
them were massacred. They filled that extensive plain with blood as if it 
had been a dish. 21 Khafi Khan further observes: "Those who escaped the 
sword, were sent in collars and chains to the Emperor. Abd-us-Samad 
sent nearly two thousand heads stuffed with hay and a thousand 
persons bound with iron chains under the charge of his son, Zakariya 
Khan, and others to the Emperor." 22 Banda Singh Bahadur made every 
effort to strengthen his defences and collect stores of ration and 
ammunition. To keep the enemy at a distance from his fortification, he 
surrounded it by a moat filled from the neighbouring canal. He also cut 
the imperial canal, called the Shahi Nahar and other small streams 
flowing from below the hills and allowed the water to spread and form 
a quagmire round the place so that the enemy — the man or horse — could 
not easily come close to the enclosure. 

On April 17, 1715, A.D., reports were received by Emperor Farrukh 
Siyar at Delhi that Abd-us-Samad Khan had followed the Sikhs to their 
new position at Gurdas Nangal and that the imperial Amirs were busy 
in digging trenches and raising mounds for the siege. He asked Irmad- 
ud-Daula to write to Abd-us-Samad Khan to kill or imprison the Sikh 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

chief and his followers. When Abd-us-Samad Khan and his allies arrived 
at Gurdas Nangal, many of the Sikhs were out in the villages for the 
collection of supplies. Number of them fell into the hands of the imperial 
force, columns of whom were scouring the country in search of them. 
They were brought into the camp and executed with every indignity and 
cruelty. 23 

The Haveli occupied by the Sikhs was immediately surrounded and 
blockaded, and the besiegers kept "so watchful a guard that not a blade 
of grass, nor a grain of corn, could find its way in". Occasionally Abd- 
us-Samad Khan and his son Zakariya Khan, at the head of several 
thousand troopers of their own nation and the forces of their allies, 
attempted to storm the Sikh position, but their attempts were defeated 
by comparatively a handful of Sikhs who showed the greatest activity in 
their defence. Muhammad Qasim, the author of the Ibrat Nama, who was 
in the service of Arif Beg Khan, Deputy Governor of Lahore, and who 
was at this time present in these operations, writes:" "The brave and 
daring deeds of the infernal Sikhs were wonderful. Twice or thrice every 
day some forty or fifty of the black faced Sikhs came out of their 
enclosure to gather grass for their cattle, and when the combined forces 
of the imperial forces went to oppose them, they (Sikhs) made an end of 
the Mughals with arrows, muskets and small swords and disappeared, 
such was the terror of the Sikhs and the fear of the sorcery of the Sikh 
Chief that the commanders of this army prayed that God might so ordain 
things that Banda (Singh) should seek his safety in his flight from the 
Garhi.' ,2A These brave deeds of the Sikhs were reported to the Emperor at 
Delhi on April 30, 1715, A.D. 25 

In the meantime, reinforcements were brought by Qamaruddin Khan 
and line of blockade was carried to within cannonshot of the fortress. 
Abd-us-Samad Khan requisitioned "Top Kalan" from Lahore for 
battering the fortress (the so-called) of Gurdas Nangal. 26 Then, gradually, 
the work of closing in on all sides was divided. Abd-us-Samad Khan 
took one side, Qamaruddin Khan and Zakariya Khan received charge of 
one side each, and the fourth side was made over to the Faujdars and 
Zamindars. By slow degrees, they closed all the openings between each 
shelter and before the Sikhs were aware of it, they were surrounded as 
if by a wall. All attempts of the besieged to sweep the obstacles away 
and break through were stoutly resisted by the besiegers. As the siege 
prolonged, so the difficulties of the Sikhs multiplied. Abd-us-Samad 
Khan wanted to get an early break through in the matter. Therefore, he 
decided to give cash reward to the killers of the Sikhs. "He gave a reward 

Last Encounter 


of rupees ten for each head with (full grown) hair brought to him. He 
who brought a head without hair wa n s given five rupees. The same 
practice of paying cash awards for killing the Sikhs continued." 27 The 
supply line was initially maintained by the Banjaras. The orders of the 
Emperor to the local Faujdars and the Zamindars of the hill territories that 
the Banjaras should not be allowed to pass through their areas and if 
captured they should be punished, sealed their activities. They used to 
provide "the rebels with foodgrains, arrows and rifles". 28 This was a 
severe blow to the attempts of the Sikhs to maintain their position. At 
this time, a few Zamindars of the hill areas cooperated with them. Madho 
Sen, Zamindar of Mandi, Man Singh, Zamindar of Kulu, and Hiraj Pal, 
Zamindar of Malabar, did not come to the help of Abd-us-Samad Khan 
for the punishment of the rebels, nor did they send their forces. 
However, in view of the siege dragging on ^terminably, they could not 
come into the open to support the Sikhs. 

Though the Sikhs were far less in number than the opposing force, 
they continued fighting the battle for months together so courageously 
that even the enemy was wonder struck. Khafi Khan says in regard to 
this battle: "The infidels (Sikhs) fought so fiercely that the army of 
Islam was nearly overpowered and over and over again they showed 
the greatest daring." 29 Similarly, Ganda Singh is of the opinion that at 
one stage" "Abd-us-Samad Khan had lost all hopes of success against so 
determined and valiant a foe (Banda Singh Bahadur)". The royal forces 
inflicted a heavy loss on the besieged. Khafi Khan says that even the 
Sikhs on several occasions showed the greatest boldness and daring 
and made noctural attacks upon the imperial forces. The siege lasted a 
long time. They frequently made sallies into the trenches and killed 
many of the besiegers. 30 To protect themselves and their horses and 
other animals, the soldiers of the imperial forces threw up an earth 
bank, ten to twenty yards long, before each tent and sheltered 
themselves behind it. 

The Sikhs on several occasions showed the greatest boldness and 
daring to sweep the obstacles away and carried away from the besiegers 
camp whatever they could lay their hands on. Baba Binod Singh 
occasionally came out of the enclosure and carried away Shirni and other 
eatables from the bazaars of the besiegers camp. The whole of the camp 
was wonder-struck at the boldness of the aged Sikh. All efforts to capture 
him proved futile. If they kept vigilance in the morning, he descended 
upon them in the evening, and if they remained watchful in the evening, 
he attacked them in the afternoon, and every time he was off before they 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

could take any counter-step. So bold and indomitable were the Guru's 
followers that they impressed their adversaries with the greatest respect 
for their fighting qualities. Thus, the siege and struggle continued for 
several months and there was great loss on both sides. 

Because of the blockade applied by the enemy, it became impossible 
for the Sikhs to bring in anything from outside. Their confinement for 
eight long months had exhausted their already small stock of provisions 
and Khalsa began to starve. By December, Banda Singh Bahadur's 
provisions ran out. 31 The Khalsa would make overtures to the 
Muhammadan soldiers and buy from them a little grain at the rate of 
two or three rupees a seer. But this could not help them and they began 
to suffer the utmost extremes of hunger. A stage came when there was 
no food left with the Sikhs and they started eating their horses. In this 
connection, Macauliffe writes, "the Sikhs were reduced to such 
extremities that they killed for food all animals in their possession". 32 

It is said that at this time a quarrel arose between Banda Singh 
Bahadur and Binod Singh. The difference of opinion is said to have 
occurred over the proposal of evacuating the enclosure and following 
their old tactics of cutting through the enemy's lines for a place of safety. 
Banda Singh Bahadur, it seems was not in favour of it, for the reasons 
best known to him, while Binod Singh struck to his own. Hot words 
were exchanged between the two and then their hands went to the hilts 
of their swords. But Kahan Singh, Baba Binod Singh's son, intervened 
and averted the bloodshed, but angry words were exchanged. It was 
decided that Baba Binod Singh should leave the Haveli, which he did. 

The difference was now overcome, but there was no remedy for the 
distress of hunger which was increasing day-by-day, says Dr. Ganda 
Singh. 33 In the absence of grain,, horses, asses and other animals were 
converted into food and eaten. The Sikhs slaughtered oxen and other 
animals and not having any firewood, ate the flesh raw. Many Sikhs died 
of dysentery and privation. When all the grass was gone, they gathered 
leaves from trees. When these leaves were consumed, they stripped the 
bark and broke off the small shoots, dried them, ground them and used 
them instead of flour, thus keeping the body and soul together. They also 
collected the bones of animals and used them in the same way. Harder 
days came when these resources, too, gave out, some of them went to the 
limit of tearing their own thighs open and eating their own flesh to keep 
themselves alive. There is no other example known to history when 
people were reduced to such horrible straits to pacify the demands of 

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elemental hunger. The first wife of Banda Singh Bahadur, the princess of 
Chamba Shushil Kaur, and their son, Ajai Singh, were also among 
them. 34 About three-and-half year old innocent child also suffered 
extreme hardships in the name of the Guru. In spite of all this ruination, 
the Sikhs did not lose heart. They aimed their rifles at the enemies and 
pressed their triggers, even when they were at death's door. Then their 
ammunition, too, finished as had their rations already. These warriors 
with stalwart bodies were now reduced to mere skeletons. Even then the 
enemy did not muster enough courage to advance to attack the besieged 
and hungry lions. 

Despite all this, the infernal Sikh chief and his men, says Kamwar 
Khan, "withstood all the military force that the great Mughal Empire 
could muster against them for eight long months". But how long could 
this continue? After all, they were human beings. Their never-ending 
starvation and the devouring of uneatable and unconsumable things, 
like the flesh of hoofed animals, grass, leaves, bark and shoots of trees 
and dry bones of dead animals wrecked their physical system. The 
obnoxious smell of putrid bodies of the dead and dying men and 
animals made the place uninhabitable. The survivors were reduced to 
mere skeletons. They were all half -dead, unable to use their muskets. 
Their magazines were emptied of their contents and it became practically 
"impossible for them to offer any resistance and continue the defence 
any longer". 35 

At last on Wednesday, December 17, 1715, A.D., the Sikh enclosure at 
Gurdas Nangal, Gurdaspur, fell into the hands of the besiegers. The 
remaining surviving Sikhs, had been physically very weak to continue 
the defence, but the imperial forces were still scared of the Khalsa, dared 
not enter the enclosure. Banda Singh Bahadur along with his remnant 
followers surrendered unconditionally. It is said that Abd-us-Samad 
Khan hoisted a flag with a proclamation, promising unconditional 
pardon and free rations to those who would surrender. Consequently, 
many surrendered, but they were slaughtered. Khafi Khan says that 
Banda Singh Bahadur also offered himself for surrender along with 
others and they all were made prisoners. This view is also endorsed by 
Karam Singh and Dr. Ganda Singh. This news of Banda Singh Bahadur's 
surrender was sent to the Emperor Farrukh Siyar at Delhi by 
Muhammad Amin Khan on December 22, 1715, A.D., 36 at a time when 
he was celebrating the anniversary of his' 1 victory over Jahandar Shah. 
Abd-us-Samad Khan reported to the Emperor that they had achieved 
great victory by capturing the rebel Guru (Banda Singh Bahadur) along 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

with a thousand of his men, alive, and taken possession of the Sikh 
enclosure. 37 After the submission of the report, the Emperor ordered that 
they should celebrate the victory over the rebel Guru by beating of 
drums. Therefore, an elephant symbolising the auspicious victory was 
presented to the Emperor. He ordered that four gunny bags filled with 
paisas should be thrown over the elephant by way of charity. 38 The 
Jubilation of Farrukh Siyar was in keeping with the importance of the 
imperial victory over the Sikhs. They, under the leadership of Banda 
Singh Bahadur, had held on doggedly all the force that the Empire could 
bring against them during the rule of Bahadur Shah, and Jahandar Shah, 
and even during Farrukh Siyar 's attempt. It was very rightly said by 
Kamwar Khan: "It was by the grace of God and not by wisdom or 
bravery that this came to happen. Otherwise, it is known to every one 
that the late Emperor Bahadur Shah, with the four royal princes and 
numerous high officials, had made efforts to repress this rebellion, but it 
was all fruitless and now that infidel of the Sikh and a few thousand of 
his companions have been starved into surrender." 39 

After the surrender of the garrison, Abd-us-Samad Khan made 
frantic efforts to get hold of the supposed hidden treasure. When it was 
found nowhere, he was enranged beyond control. The Mughal officers 
had made over one thousand Sikhs prisoners found alive within the 
fortress. According to William Irvine, "of these prisoners, two or three 
hundred were executed by the general's order. ... As it was known that 
many of the Sikhs had swallowed whatever gold coins they had, to save 
them from plunder, the dead bodies were ripped open and thus much 
wealth fell into the hands of the low camp followers and the Mughal 
soldiers. The rest of the prisoners were placed in fetters and kept to grace 
the triumphal entry into Delhi." 40 The following arms and articles were 
recovered from the enclosure, and later delivered to the armoury of Delhi 
by Zakariya Khan. 

Swords — 


Shields — 


Bows and Quivers — 


Matchlocks — 


Daggers (Jamdhar) — 


Long Knives (Kard) — 


Gold Mohars — 


Rupees, a little over — 

600 41 \ 

The valuables were a few gold ornaments, 23 gold coins, and a little 

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over 600 rupees. 42 The list of arms taken and money seized, does not give 
a very exalted notion of either the military strength or of the wealth of 
the Sikh leader in the enclosure of Gurdas Nangal and the Sikhs who so 
determinedly resisted the greatest empire of the day for such a long time. 

Banda Singh Bahadur and the Sikh prisoners 43 were brought to 
Lahore from Gurdas Nangal. Though Banda Singh was a prisoner, the 
officials feared that because of his supernatural powers, he might slip 
away. Therefore, a Mughal officer volunteered that he should be tied to 
Banda on the same elephant so that if he tried to escape he would thrust 
a dagger into his body. 44 Fetters were put on Banda Singh's feet, a ring 
round his neck and also a chain over his back. He was put in an iron 
cage, which was chained on four sides. Instead of one, two Mughal 
officers were tied to him, one on each side on an elephant. With three 
thousand heads of the Sikhs fixed on spears, Banda Singh Bahadur and 
his comrades were brought to Lahore in a procession, preceded by 
drummers and bandsmen. 

At Lahore, they were kept in the fort for some days. Zakariya Khan 
then thought that 200 Sikhs were too small a number to be presented to 
the Emperor. Thus a general order for the hunt of the Sikhs was issued 
by him and innocent Sikhs were arrested and their number reached 
about a thousand in a few days 45 Abd-us-Samad Khan asked for 
permission to come to Delhi in person with his great prisoner, but he was 
ordered to remain and attend to the government of his province, and 
send Banda Singh and the other Sikh prisoners in the charge of his son 
Zakariya Khan and of Qamr-ud-din Khan, the son of Muhammad Amin 
Khan. The Sikh prisoners were then marched to Delhi by Sarhind, where 
they were paraded through the streets to be ridiculed by the people, who 
hurled abuses on them, as they passed. But the Sikhs tolerated all 
indignities with patience and calmness and passed through the bazaar, 
singing the sacred hymns of the Gurus. 46 By reaching Agharabad on 
February 25, 1716, A.D., Zakariya Khan reported it to the Emperor at 
Delhi. Mohammad Amin Khan was sent to make necessary 
arrangements for bringing Banda Singh Bahadur and his followers to 
Delhi in a particular fashion. 

On February 27, 1716, A.D., Banda Singh Bahadur and the other Sikh 
prisoners were conducted, in a procession, to the city of Delhi. A graphic 
description based on the contemporary sources is reproduced. "The road 
from Agharabad to the Lahori gate of the place, a distance of several 
miles, was lined on both sides with troops. Banda Singh Bahadur sat in 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

an iron cage placed on the back of an elephant. He wore a long, heavy- 
skirted court dress (Jama) of gold brocade, the pattern on it being of 
pomegranate flowers and a gold-embroidered turban of fine red cotton 
cloth. Behind him stood, clad chain mail, withdrawn sword in hand, one 
of the principal Mughal officers. In front of the elephant were carried, 
raised on bamboo poles, the heads of the Sikh prisoners who had been 
executed, the long hair streaming over them like a veil. Along with these, 
the body of a cat was exposed at the end of a pole, meaning that, even 
down to four-footed animals, everything in Gurdaspur had been 
destroyed. Behind the Guru's (Banda Singh Bahadur) elephant followed 
the rest of the prisoners, seven hundred and forty in number. They were 
seated, two and two, on camels without Saddles. One hand of each man 
was attached to his neck by two pieces of wood, which were held 
together by iron pins. On their heads were high caps of a ridiculous 
shape made of sheep's skin and adorned with glass beads. A few of the 
principal men, who rode nearest to the elephant, had been clothed in 
sheep's skin with the woolly side outwards, so that the common people 
compared them to bears. When the prisoners had passed, they were 
followed by Nawab Mohd. Amin Khan Chin, accompanied by his son 
Qamruddin Khan and his son-in-law Zakariya Khan. In this order the 
procession passed on through the streets to the palace/' 47 

The people on both sides of the roads ridiculed Banda Singh Bahadur 
and laughed at the appearance of his followers. But the Sikhs were 
unmoved by their mockery and stood all that disgrace calmly. In other 
words, in spite of these humiliations, their morale and spirits remained 
very high. When the procession passed through the streets, Mirza 
Mohammad Harisi saw the procession and described it as follows: 
"Those unfortunate Sikhs who had been reduced to this last extremity, 
were quite happy and contended with their fate, not the slightest sign of 
dejection or humiliation was to be seen on their faces. In fact, most of 
them as they passed along on their camels seemed happy and cheerful, 
joyfully singing the sacred hymns of their scripture. And if anyone from 
amongst those in the lanes and bazaars called out to them that their own 
excesses had reduced them to that condition, they quickly retorted 
saying that it had been so willed by the Almighty and their capture and 
misfortune were in accordance with His will, and if anyone said, 'Now 
you will be killed', they shouted: 'Kill us! When were we afraid of death? 
Had we been afraid of it, how could we have fought so many battles 
with you? It was merely through starvation that we fell into your hands, 
otherwise, you know already what deeds we are capable of'." 48 

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This shows how daring and courageous Banda Singh Bahadur and 
his comrades were and that they could not be intimidated even under 
severe physical hardships. Not all the insults that their enemies had 
inflicted could rob the brave disciples of Guru Gobind Singh of their 
natural dignity: "Without any sign of dejection or shame, they rode on, 
calm and cheerful, even anxious to die the death of martyrs." 49 

When the procession arrived at the fort, Banda Singh Bahadur and 
some of his leading comrades like Baj Singh, Fateh Singh, and others, 
were handed over to Ibrahim-ud-din Khan Mir Atish, on the orders of 
the Emperor. They were imprisoned at the Tripolia. The remaining 694 50 
Sikhs were handed over to Sarbrah Khan Kotwal, for execution. Banda 
Singh Bahadur's first wife, Shushil Kaur, their four-year old son Ajai 
Singh, and the nurse of the child, were taken away by Darbar Khan 
Nazir of the harem. 51 Itmad-ud-Daula Muhammad Amin Khan was 
honoured with six khilats or dresses of honour, a jewelled diadem, and an 
Arab horse with golden harness, and Qamr-ud-din Khan and Zakariya 
Khan each with a special dress of honour, a jewelled diadem, a horse and 
an elephant. 52 

It was decided by the Mughal authorities that all the Sikhs should 
not be executed at one time. It was decided that only one hundred be 
executed on any one day. Sarbrah Khan Kotwal was detailed as the 
officer in charge of the execution, which began on March 5, 1716, A.D., 
opposite the chabutra Kotwali or police station on the side of the Tripolia. 
According to a prior plan, one hundred of them were taken out of their 
prison every day and were executed. Before execution, everybody was 
offered pardon, if he accepted Islam. Every brave Sikh flatly refused that 
offer and laid down his life with firmness, patience and undaunted 
spirit. Here, even an English testimony is available. The members of the 
English embassy, Messrs John Surman and Edward Stephenson had 
come to represent their case about their privileges to Emperor Farrukh 
Siyar. They saw the executions themselves and wrote about it in their 
despatch, dated March 10, 1716, A.D., to the Honourable Robert Hedges, 
President and Governor of Fort William. They wrote that one hundred of 
them were beheaded each day. "It is not a little remarkable with what 
patience they undergo their fate, and to the last it has not been found 
that one has apostatised from the newly formed religion." 53 

The author of Ibrat Namah, writes that he had been to the scene of 
execution on the second day, or March 6, 1716, A.D., to see the Tamasha- 
i-qatal, but he arrived there at a time when the slaughter for that day was 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

over and bodies were still lying there in blood and dust in the burning 
heat of the sun. 54 

The contemporary sources said that the brave Sikhs competed with 
one another for martyrdom. In this connection, Macauliffe writes that 
"the Sikhs vied with one another for precedence in death". 55 Similarly, a 
Mohammadan writer of the period, as quoted by G.S. Scott in his Religion 
and Short History of the Sikhs, writes: "It is singular that these people not 
only behaved firmly during their execution, but disputed and wrangled 
with each other as to who should be slain first and even made request 
with the executioners to obtain preference". 56 To quote Ganda Singh: 
"The Sikhs welcomed death with undaunted spirit, presented their 
heads to the executioners with cheerful faces and with the words 
Wahiguru, Wahiguru on their lips, they joyfully gave up their lives amidst 
the wondering praise of the populace." 57 

Appreciating the steadfastness of devotion to their leader and their 
firmness of faith, the author of Muntakhib-ul-Lubab, Khafi Khan, has 
recorded "what he saw with his own eyes" 58 Among the prisoners 
sentenced to death was a Sikh youth of tender age. He was the only son 
of a widowed mother. He had only recently been married and as yet had 
the Kangan-i-Arusi, the marriage thread, on his wrist. Hearing of the 
impending doom of her son with the other prisoners, the old mother 
approached Ratan Chand, Diwan of the Wazir, and through his 
influential support, pleaded the cause of her son with great feeling and 
earnestness before Emperor Farrukh Siyar and Sayyed Abdullah Khan. 
To avail of the Emperor's general offer to spare the lives of those who 
renounced the Sikh faith, the old woman, probably as tutored by Diwan 
Ratan Chand, represented that her son was only a prisoner in the hands 
of the Sikhs and was not a follower of the Gurus. He was brought here, 
she said, while in their captivity and now stood innocent among those 
condemned to death. Farrukh Siyar commiserated with the old woman 
and sent an officer with orders to release the youth. The woman arrived 
with the order of release just as the executioner was standing with the 
bloody sword over that young man's head. She presented the order for 
his release to the Kotzval. He brought out the prisoner and told him he 
was free. But the boy refused to be released, says Khafi Khan, and loudly 
cried out: "My mother is a liar. I am heart and soul a devoted follower 
of the Gurus. Send me quickly after my companions." No bewailing cries 
and tearful entreaties of his old mother and no persuasion of the state 
officers, writes the author of the Tarikh-i-Muhammad Shahi, could shake 
the young Sikh in his devotion to his faith. The spectators were further 

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dumfounded when the heroic boy retraced his steps back to the place of 
execution and calmly bowed his head before the executioner to meet his 
death. 59 Farrukh Siyar was taken aback and pondered over what was 
there that made every Sikh have no fear of death. 

On being asked by the executioner for further orders of the Emperor 
on the boy's refusal, Farrukh Siyar replied in a halting voice as under: "It 
goes against my grain to doom this boy to death, his courage and 
bravery bid me spare his life. I cannot, however, go back on my own 
word. I have vowed to exterminate the Sikhs throughout the country. I 
am, therefore, compelled to order this foolish and unthinking boy to be 
put to death." 60 After the execution of the Sikhs which went on for seven 
days, there was a lull. Banda Singh Bahadur and his principal men were 
not executed immediately and were kept in the fort for three months. 
The object of their detention was to get a clue of the treasure. 61 But the 
Khalsa, who believed in the principle of Wand Shakna (the sharing of 
earnings) could not be expected to have any treasure as such. So when 
the rulers were disappointed to get the clue, they decided to execute 
Banda Singh Bahadur. 

The fate reserved for Banda Singh Bahadur is too excruciating to be 
described, says Dr. Ganda Singh. 62 Ultimately, the Emperor issued an 
order that Ibrahimuddin, Mir-i-Atish, and Sarbarah Khan Kotwal should 
take Banda Singh Bahadur to the mausoleum of Khwaja Qutab-ud-din, 
opposite the mausoleum of Emperor Bahadur Shah. "His tongue and 
eyes should be pulled out and skin be torn off from his flesh. His bones 
be separated from his flesh and his son be also killed." 63 The order was 
complied with on June 19, 1716, A.D. Banda Singh Bahadur, his son Ajai 
Singh, Sardar Baj Singh, Ram Singh, Bhai Fateh Singh, Ali Singh, Gulab 
Singh Bakhshi, and others who had been confined in the fort of Delhi, 
were taken out of the fort in procession. The same old embroidered red 
turban and cloak were put on Banda Singh Bahadur. Fettered and 
chained all over, he was placed in an iron cage which was fastened on 
the back of an elephant. His companions 64 were put on the bare back of 
camels. They were preceded by Sarbrah Khan Kotwal at the head of his 
police force. In the rear was Ibrahim-ud-din, Head of Artillery. The 
procession passed through the main streets of Delhi. They were taken to 
the tomb of Khwaja Qutab-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki near Qutab Minar in 
Mehrauli, 16 km from the Red Fort. They were led around the tomb of 
the late Emperor Bahadur Shah who had failed in suppressing Banda 
Singh's rebellion, so as to give satisfaction to his soul. The leading nobles 
had already gathered there. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Banda Singh Bahadur was taken out of the cage and seated on the 
ground. As usual he was offered life on his embracing Islam. The 
proposal was rejected. Though heavily chained, his right hand was freed. 
His son, Ajai Singh, was placed in his lap and a dagger put in his right 
hand to kill the child. Banda Singh Bahadur did not stir. Thereupon, the 
dagger was thrust into the body of the child and his heart and entrails 
were thrust into Banda Singh's mouth. He shut his mouth and he 
remained absolutely unmoved. 65 Muhammad Amin Khan, later Prime 
Minister, was standing nearby. He came closer and intensely looked into 
the eyes of Banda Singh Bahadur. He was deeply impressed with his 
noble features. He remarked: "It is surprising that one who shows so 
much acuteness in his features and so much of nobility in his conduct, 
should have been guilty of such horrors." In complete composure and 
tranquillity, Banda Singh Bahadur replied: "I will tell you. Whenever 
men become so corrupt and wicked as to relinquish the path of equity 
and to abandon themselves to all kinds of excesses, then the Providence 
never fails to raise up a scourge like me to chastise a race so depraved; 
but when the measure of punishment is full then he raises up men like 
you to bring him to punishment." 66 

Then on the orders of the Emperor, Banda Singh's flesh was torn off 
with red-hot pincers and the process continued till he died. During his 
tortures, Banda Singh Bahadur showed unparalleled calmness and died 
with unshaken constancy, writes Elphinstone, "glorifying in having been 
raised up by God to be scourge to the inequities and oppressions of the 
age." 67 On Banda Singh's torture to death, Ganda Singh reports thus: 
"First of all, his right eye was removed with the point of a butcher's 
knife and then his left. His left foot was cut off next, and then his two 
hands were severed from his body. His flesh was then torn with red hot 
pincers and finally he was decapitated and hacked to pieces, limb by 
limb." 68 

This horrid savagery lasted the whole day. Banda Singh displayed 
heavenly calm, no tears, no cries, no groaning, no expression of grief, no 
jerk in the body, and no sign of pain. Throughout he remained composed 
and collected, serene and steady, unruffled and unstirred. A curious 
creature was he, this Banda Singh Bahadur, remarks Dr. Hari Ram Gupta. 
He further says that he had a power of concentrating his mind on 
something away from his body and his surroundings with such intensity 
as if he were in a trance. 69 

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This abominable scene was staged before the very eyes of Banda's 
officials who included Fateh Singh, Ali Singh and Gulab Singh Bakhshi 
who had remained in the Lohgarh fort after Banda Singh's escape, and 
some other close comrades of Banda Singh Bahadur were also beheaded 
on June 20, 1716, A.D., next day, at the same place. These powerful 
warriors had resigned themselves to the will of God as the final 
consummation. They were tried by God and destiny, and succeeded in 
their right for maintaining the highest Sikh ideals, and they had not been 
found wanting in any respect. 

Coming to the fate of Banda Singh's wife, Bibi Shushil Kaur, Karam 
Singh historian writes that the Raj Kumari of Chamba could not see the 
torturing of her son and she accepted Islam. In the recent work on Banda 
Singh Bahadur, Dr. Raj Pal Singh, on the basis of Shiv Das Lakhnavi and 
Shahnama Munawwar Kalam also writes: "Banda Singh Bahadur's wife 
was converted to Islam, entered the palace and became one of the slave 
of the royal seraglio." But Mata Joginder Kaur of Dera Baba Banda Singh 
Bahadur, and the author of the present work, do not agree with this view. 
Mata Joginder Kaur asserts that it is wrong to say that Raj Kumari 
Shushil Kaur embraced Islam. She takes pains to explain that the lady 
who preferred to stay in the jungle with Banda Singh Bahadur for about 
two years and could come to the battlefield with him, could not be 
expected to be converted to Islam. Her argument seems to be convincing 
also. This author, in her paper "Bibi Shushil Kaur", also proved that 
when Bibi Shushil Kaur saw that her honour would not be safe in the 
hands of the imperial officers in the royal harem, she committed 
suicide. 71 

Banda Singh Bahadur and his comrades did not die in vain. This 
tragic event changed the course of not only Sikh history but also of the 
history of Punjab. Banda Singh had shown to the Sikhs the difference 
between those who were in power and those who were out of it. The 
lesson of power once practically taught could not be forgotten by a 
militant community. They continuously worked to regain what they had 
lost and in half a century became the undisputed masters of the land of 
five rivers. 

Banda Singh Bahadur, the great leader was part of the Sikh 
revolution in which the Khalsa was seen as a dynamic integrative force. 
After having dedicated his entire life to the well-being of the masses 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Banda Singh Bahadur had this to say of himself: "I am Banda of the 10th 
Master." In fact he had given his body and mind, his existence's physics 
and his experience's metaphysics to the entire Indian community which 
to him was one organic whole perceived as a continuing passion play of 
an ageless nation in which the discordance of diversity was eventually 
absorbed by the concordance of unity. And for this commitment to the 
community he and his contribution must be remembered. 72 

The execution of Banda Singh Bahadur was a staggering catastrophe 
in history, and the minds of the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims who held 
him in great esteem and reverence, were rudely shaken. He was uplifter 
of society and took keen interest in the politics of his day. He was deeply 
concerned about the disabilities of the people. He strongly resented the 
sufferings of the people at the hands of the oppressive rule of the 
Mughals and for some time threw away the Mughal imperialists out of 
the vast territory of the Punjab. After the execution of Banda Singh, a 
general proclamation was issued for the destruction of the Sikhs, 
wherever they were found. They were hunted down like beasts and any 
man who killed a Sikh could claim a reward from the Viceroy of 
Lahore. 73 

Banda Singh had earned his well-deserved fame as a crusader by his 
concerted action, daring, sacrifice and innumerable heroic deeds. Banda 
Singh was dead a long time ago. But before his death he had set up the 
tradition of great ability, great courage, great perseverance, great 
sacrifice — all directed to the service of the downtrodden and oppressed. 
He had a flame-like quality, a fire within himself which burned and 
consumed him and drew him relentlessly forward, it made him almost 
oblivious of all other matters, even the intimate personal relations. He 
had neither friends nor foes but a mission to fulfil. He did a herculean 
job to achieve his goal, but never compromised on his principles, and 
became a martyr for the cause of the poor and the Khalsa Panth. He 
possessed the qualities of a true hero. Bhagat Kabir says in Adi Granth: 

He alone is the hero who fights to defend 
the humble and the helpless, 
who, even though hacked limb by limb, 
will not flee from the field. 74 

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Notes and References 

1. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 151. 

2. Aklibarat, dated October 15, 1712 AD. 

3. Saif-ud-Daula Abd-us-Samad Khan Bahadur Diler-i-Jang, a descendant of 
Khwaja Ahrar of Turan, was a brother-in-law of Itmad-ud-Daula Muhammad 
Amin Khan Bahadur, whose wife was a sister of his wife, both being the 
daughters of his uncle Khwaja Zakariya. He had come to India in the reign of 
Aurangzeb and at first had the rank of 400. In Bahadur Shah's reign he rose to 
the rank of 700. In the war of succession between the sons of Bahadur Shah, he 
joined Zulfiqar Khan and distinguished himself by slaying prince Jahan Shah. 
His meritorious services in the struggle between Jahandar Shah and Farrukh 
Siyar won him the rank of five thousand, with five thousand horses, and the title 
of Diler-i-Jang, and he was made the Governor of Lahore. 

4. Farrukh Siyar Nama, Kanwar Tazkirah, quoted by William Irvine, pp. 309-10. 

5. Kanwar, Ibid., quoted by William Irvine, p. 310. 

6. Akhbarat, dated July 17, 1713, A.D. 

7. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 155. 

8. Ibid. 

9. See Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 66. 

10. Irvine William, The Later Mughals, pp. 308-9. 

11. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 158. 

12. Ibid. 

13. Ibid., p. 161. • 

14. Qasim, Ibrat Namah, p. 41. Umdat-ut-Tawarikh, i, 80. Quoted by Ganda Singh, 
Ibid., p. 162. 

15. Akhbarat, dated April 10, 1715, A.D. 

16. See Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 165. 

17. Ibid. 

18. Muhammad Qasim, Ibrat Namah, pp. 41-42. Quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., 
p. 166. 

Muhammad Qasim was present in these operations and at the siege of Gurdas 
Nangal, being then in the service of Arif Beg Khan, Deputy Governor of Lahore. 

19. Dr. Hari Ram Gupta is of the opinion that it was 6 km to the west of Gurdaspur, 
op. cit., p. 28. Now a beautiful Gurudwara and a Sarovar are being built there. 

20. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 28. 

21. Khafi Khan in Elliot and Dowson, Vol. VII, p. 457. 

22. Ibid. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

23. Ibrat Namah, p. 42, quoted by Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 167. 

24. Quoted by Gianda Singh, Ibid., p. 168. 

25. Akhbarat, dated 30th April, 1715, A.D. 

26. Ibid., dated May 1, 1715, A.D. 

27. Ibid., dated June 14, 1715, A.D. 

28. Ibid., dated July 3, 1715, A.D. 

29. Khafi Khan, as quoted by Khazan Singh, op. cit., p. 222. 

30. Ibid., p. 222. 

31. Irvine, William, op. cit., pp. 314-15. 

32. Macauliffe, M.A., op. cit., p. 252. 

33. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 172. 

34. Sahib Kaur, the second wife of Banda Singh Bahadur, was living at Dehra Baba 
Banda Singh Bahadur in Jammu territory and it was at this time that she gave birth 
to her son, Ranjeet Singh. 

35. Irvine, William, op. cit., p. 315. 

36. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 174. Also see, Sohan Singh Seetal, op. cit., p. 133. But 
Khazan Singh, op. cit., puts this date as January 1716, A.D. 

37. Dr. Raj Pal Singh quoted Akhbarat, which gives the date 12th December 1715, A.D. 

38. Akhbarat, dated December 13, 1715, A.D. 

39. Quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 175. 

40. Irvine, William, The Later Mughals, p. 315. 

41. Kamwar Tazkirah, Farrukh Siyar Nama, quoted by William Irvine, op. cit., 
pp. 315-16. 

42. Irvine, William, op. cit., p. 315. 

43. Karam Singh, historian, estimates their number at 200. 

44. Karam Singh, op. cit., p. 177. 

45. Ibid., p. 180. 

46. Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Prakash, Amritsar (1962) p. 156. 

47. Harisi, Ibrat Namah, 52 a-b. Quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 180. Irvine, 
William, op. cit., pp. 316-17. 

48. Harisi Mirza Mohammad, Ibrat Namah, p. 52, quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., 
pp. 181-82. 

49. Wilson, C.R., Early Annals of the English in Bengal, pp. 96-99. 

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50. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 183. 

51. Harbans Kaur Sagoo, "Bibi Shushil Kaur", in a book entitled Sobhavantian, edited 
by Dr. Mohinder Kaur Gill, pp. 115-47. 

52. Kanwar Tazkirah, p. 179 a-b, quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 184. 

53. Wheeler, J.T., Early Records of British India, Calcutta (1878), p. 180. 

54. Harisi, Mirza Muhammad, Ibrat Namah, p. 53. Quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 

55. Macauliffe, M.A., The Sikh Religion, its Gums, Sacred Writings and Authors, Oxford 
(1909) p. 252. 

56. Scott, G.B., Religion and Short History of the Sikhs, p. 33. 

57. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 185. 

58. Khafi Khan, Muntakhib-ul-Lubab, Vol. II, p. 766. Quoted by Ganda Singh, op. cit., 
pp. 186-88. 

59. This incident is quoted by almost all contemporary writers. 
Muntakhib-ul-Lubab, Vol. II, p. 766. 

Elliot, op. cit., Vol. VII, p. 458. 
Bahar-ul-Mawwaj, p. 228 a. 
Wilson, Early Annals, Vol. XIIII. 
Shiv Das, Manavvar-ul-Kalam. 
Irvine, op. cit., p. 318. 

Tarikh-e-Muhammad Shahi, 247b. Ganda Singh, op. cit., 188, f.n. 
Anecdotes from Sikh History, No. 4, Lahore (1906) p. 24. 
Anonymous author of Iqbalnama has also recorded this incident. 

60. Anecdotes from Sikh History, No. 4, Lahore (1906), p. 24. Quoted by G.S. Deol, 
p. 102. 

61. Wheeler, J.T., p. 180, Karam Singh, p. 184, Mata Joginder Kaur, p. 27. 

Kanwar Tazkirah, p. 179 b. See letter quoted by Kanwar, letter dated 10th March 
1716 A.D., from Messrs. John Surman and Edward Stephenson, the members of 
the English Embassy to Emperor Farrukh Siyar, to the honourable Robert Hedges, 
President and Governor of Fort William. This letter is also available in J.T. 
Wheeler's Early Records of British India, p. 180 and in C.R. Wilson's The Early 
Annals of the English in Bengal, pp. 96-98. 

Letter XII 

The Honourable Robert Hedges Esq., 

President and Governor of Fort William and Council in Bengal. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Honourable Sir, 

We wrote your honour on the 7th ultimo since which we have received no letters. 

The great Rebel Gooroo (Guru) who has been for these 20 years so troublesome 
in the subaship (subah) of Lahore is at length taken with all his family and 
attendance by Abd-us-Samad cawn the Suba (Subedar i.e. Governor) of that 
province. Some days ago they entered the city laden with fetters, his whole 
attendants which were left alive being about seven hundred and eighty all 
severally mounted on camels which were sent out of the city for that purpose, 
besides about two thousand heads stuck upon poles, being those who died by the 
sword in battle. He was carried into the presence of the king and from thence to 
a close prison. He at present has his life prolonged with most of his miitsuddys 
(mutasaddis) in hope to get an account of his treasure in the several parts of his 
kingdom and of those that assisted him, when afterwards he will be executed, for 
the rest there are 100 each day beheaded. It is not a little remarkable with what 
patience they undergo their fate, and to the last it has not been found that one 
apostatised form this new formed religion. . . . 

We are, 

Hon'ble Sir and Sirs, 

Your most obedient humble servants, 
John Surman, 
Edward Stephenson 


March the 10th, 1715-16 

62. Ganda Singh, op. ext., p. 190. 

63. Akhbarat, 9 June, 1716, A.D. 

64. According to Dr. Ganda Singh they were 26 in number. But Dr. H.R. Gupta gave 
the number as 18. 

65. A similar view is held by Karam Singh Historian and M.S. Elphinstone and 
Ganda Singh. But some writers like G.B. Scott, Macauliffe, Sohan Singh and 
Khazan Singh point out that Banda Singh Bahadur cut the throat of his son 
himself, which view cannot be said to be correct for the simple reason that such 
a brave father as Banda Singh Bahadur was, could not be expected to take the life 
of his own son under threat or compulsion. 

66. Siyar-iil-Mutakhirin, p. 403. Raymond's translation, Vol. I, p. 91, see Hari Ram 
Gupta, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 35. 

67. Elphinstone, M.S., The History of India, Vol. I, London (1916), p. 669. 

68. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 192. 

69. Hari Ram Gupta, op. cit., p. 35. 

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70. Joginder Kaur, Baba Banda Bahadur, p. 28. 

71. See "Bibi Shushil Kaur", by Dr. Harbans Kaur Sagoo in a book entitled 
Sobhabantian, edited by Dr. M.K. Gill. 

72. Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 74. 

73. Payne, C.H., A Short History of Sikhs, London, p. 45. 

74. Adi Granth, p. 1105. 

ygrr yurr oil? v# crap" ?F tf3"ii 


Banda Singh Bahadur was undeniably one of the most remarkable men 
that India had produced in the eighteenth century. Banda Singh Bahadur 
was a Rajput. The blood of a Kshatriya flowed in his veins. Thus, he 
inherited the spirit of bravery, heroism, love of independence, and self- 
sacrifice from his race. This spirit was further strengthened by his long 
residence in Maharashtra where he had seen how Shambhuji, son of 
Shivaji, his step brother Rajaram and his widow Tara Bai, had carried on 
a life and death struggle against Aurangzeb who was personally leading 
a campaign of annihilation against the Marathas. Banda Singh's dormant 
spirit of nationalism was awakened and put into its practical application 
by Guru Gobind Singh. His nationalist enthusiasm was further aroused 
by the Guru's sufferings and sacrifices, and ultimately by his death as a 
result of the Mughal trickery. 1 

In personal appearance Banda Singh Bahadur, according to the Mirat- 
i-YJaxidat of Muhammad Shafi Warid, resembled Guru Gobind Singh. 
Thin of physique and of medium height, he was of light brown 
complexion. It was, therefore, that those who had seen him only from a 
distance or had only heard of him and had not the opportunity of 
knowing him personally and closely, had taken him to be Guru Gobind 
Singh himself and had recorded him as such — as Guru Gobind Singh — 
in their writings. 2 The scanty records of the contemporary writers give 
little information about the many qualities he possessed. Dr. Hari Ram 



Gupta sums up his qualities as: "Curiously, Banda had a great 
resemblance in looks with Guru Gobind Singh. He possessed the same 
medium height and bulk of the body and colour of the face. Under his 
bushy beard and moustache and long hair on head, the facial features 
also looked alike. Further, both spoke the same language which was a 
mixture of Hindi and Punjabi. Both were fond of covering themselves 
with arms cap-a-pie. Both were in possession of a commanding voice 
and manner which resulted in implicit obedience from their followers. 
Both could arouse the zeal for supreme sacrifice of their devotees/' 3 The 
nobleness of his features, with sharp and shining eyes, impressed his 
greatness even on the minds of his worst enemies like Itmad-ud-Daulah 
Muhammad Amin Khan who praised him for "so much of acuteness in 
his features and so much of nobility in his conduct". Depicting his 
personal qualities, Karam Singh, the historian, writes: "He was not so 
strong as he was swift (dashing) and no weapon except arrow and 
dagger appealed to him. He was a good horse-rider and he could stand 
continual physical strains." 4 He would, of course, ride on for days 
without being fatigued. Similarly, Sohan Singh says that "in dexterity, he 
(Banda Singh) had surpassed even Sewaji (Shivaji)". 5 Though not a giant 
in his built, he was very active and would keep at bay far stronger men 
in the battlefield. He was a good marksman, Banduq or Ramjanga, as they 
called a matchlock, being a favourite weapon of the Sikhs, but he was 
excessively fond of his sword and bow. 6 

Banda Singh Bahadur was very brave and courageous. He possessed 
a most fearless and undaunted spirit. He never knuckled under physical 
influence nor could any sort of oppression and pressure mtimidate him. 
To quote M'Gregor: "He (Banda Singh) is allowed on all hands, to have 
been a man of undaunted valour and bravery, and the coolness with 
which he met his death." 7 It has earned praise for Banda Singh even 
from men like Khafi Khan. In Cunningham's opinion, Banda (Singh) was 
obeyed ungrudgingly and blindly, because he was an energetic and 
daring leader. He also calls him "an able and enterprising leader". 
According to Malcolm, "Banda performed prodigies of valour". 8 The 
personal magnetism of Banda Singh, writes Dr. Gokul Chand Narang, 
was too great and it was his undaunted courage and extraordinary 
valour which knit his followers closely to him. 9 

Banda Singh renounced the world at 15, and lived like a bairagi for 
about twenty-three years. At the age of thirty-eight Guru Gobind Singh 
met, baptised and appointed him commander of the Khalsa. Thus, Banda 
Singh had travelled from north to south and back again, and he had seen 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

all the destruction, rape and rapine of the Mughal Emperors and nobles. 
The Rajput spirit was throbbing in him. It was lying dormant under an 
ash-smeared skin. This spirit was roused by Guru Gobind Singh and 
retaliation was a natural consequence. 10 Thereafter, during the 
momentous period from 1708 A.D. to 1715 A.D., the Sikhs under the able 
leadership of Banda Singh Bahadur waged long-drawn battles against 
the tyrannical and oppressive Mughal officers and the emperors, united 
the warring people of Punjab, freeing the tiller of the land from the 
clutches of the tyrant Zamindars, and thus established the pioneer 
commonwealth of the Khalsa. Banda Singh Bahadur as commander of the 
Khalsa, liberated a large part of Punjab and made his headquarter at 
Mukhlispur, renamed Lohgarh. He introduced an official seal and struck 
coins in the name of Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Nanak. He also 
introduced a new Sammat, or year, commencing with the victory of 
Sarhind. He commanded a big army and appointed new officials (Sikhs, 
Hindus and Muslims) to run the administration in place of tyrants and 
corrupt officials. Nonetheless, he always declared himself to be a Banda 
or slave of the Tenth Guru and the coins, seals, hukamnama testify to his 
ungrudging and unflinching devotion to the Guru and the Khalsa. That 
is why, he had left behind, such a splendid legacy as the first commander 
of the Sikh pioneer state that the inscription of his seal was later adopted 
in toto by the Sikh Sardars of the misals, for their coins. Thus the aim of 
Banda Singh Bahadur was not merely to weaken the Mughal power, but 
to destroy it root and branch, and to establish in its place national rule 
or self-government, which he did, though for a short period. Banda 
Singh was the first to lay the foundation of political sovereignty of the 
Sikhs. He had brought about a revolution in the minds of the people. 

Banda Singh was a great reformer. He broke down the barriers of 
caste, creed, and religion. He appointed sweepers and cobblers as big 
officers (revenue collectors) before whom high caste Hindus, Brahmins 
and Kshatriyas stood with folded hands awaiting their orders. He 
believed in socialism. He distributed all his riches among his followers. 
He abolished the Zamindari system and freed the peasants from the tyrant 
Zamindars. He was opposed to the use of intoxicants and drugs. He 
prohibited drinking of bhang and wine and smoking of tobacco or charas 
which was clear from his hukamnama to the Sangat of Jaunpur. Banda 
Singh possessed the high ideals of life, sincerity, honesty, indomitable 
spirit, undoubted enthusiasm, rare daring, single-minded devotion to his 
cause, dare-devilry of the highest type, and nobility of character. It was 
for this reason that none of his over seven hundred followers renounced 
his faith to save his life. Even a young lad who had been pardoned by 



the Emperor refused to leave Banda Singh in the face of death. In the 
words of Hari Ram Gupta: "Banda Singh showed that the only way to 
meet the eternal foe was to adopt the policy of paying them in their own 
coin, a tooth, for a tooth and an eye for an eye, and to pay off old scores. 
The Sikhs learnt this lesson from Banda Singh and admirably succeeded 
in establishing their own rule in their homeland." 11 

Banda Singh Bahadur was one of the most unforgettable characters 
in medieval Indian history whose role has not yet been put into right 
perspective before the people of this country. The leadership of the Sikhs 
in their fight against the tyrannical Mughal officers of the Subas of Delhi 
and Lahore after the assassination of Guru Gobind Singh, was assumed 
by him at the behest of the Tenth Guru as commander of the Khalsa and 
he lived and died for it. Banda Singh Bahadur, taking advantage of the 
distracted state of the empire, gradually became very powerful in 
Punjab. He created armies out of the void as it were, to fight the 
Mughals, and united the scattered atoms like the Sikhs under his 
leadership into an almost invincible army out for conquest and 
expansion. Like their leader, his army was absolutely fearless and 
determined to resist all types of hazards. They even believed in 
mounting offensives against the evil doers and oppressors. That is why 
they drew considerable support from the poor masses. His soldiers 
belonged to Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. But Banda Singh Bahadur 
infused among them the spirit of equality, brotherhood and 
fraternization. Commenting on this aspect of Banda Singh Bahadur's 
influence, Ghulam Mohyuddin, a contemporary of Banda Singh, writes 
that low caste Hindus, termed as the dreg of society by the hellish 
Hindus, swelled the ranks of Banda Singh. 12 

Banda Singh Bahadur was a first rate Sikh warrior of his times like 
his master, he was a champion of the persecuted and the downtrodden 
and raised the lowest of the low to the highest position under his 
government. He carried on a relentless war against the Mughals, no 
doubt, but he never allowed it to be reduced to an anti-Muslim 
communal strife. His was a political struggle for the freedom of the 
country and he was able to draw a line between religion and politics. He 
made no distinction between Hindu, Sikh and Muslim. Whosoever 
suffered at the hands of the Mughal officials received his sympathy and 
help. Within a month of his conquest of Sarhind, he appointed one Jan 
Mohammad, Zamindar of Gulab Nagar, as the administrator of the 
pargana, and he also desired him to bring in Sardar Khan of Choondla. 
His programme of liberation of the oppressed peasantry attracted as 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

many as five thousand Muslims to join his army and it was reported to 
Emperor Bahadur Shah on April 28, 1711, A.D., from the neighbourhood 
of Kalanaur that the Sikh leader had allowed his Muslim adherents 
fullest religious liberty of recitation and prayer Fang, khutba and namaz — 
in the Sikh military camps. This speaks volumes of his attitude towards 
the Muslims. Banda Singh Bahadur was one of the great soldiers and 
generals of his time. The successive victories of his forces over the 
imperial forces in the Subas of Delhi and Lahore in early 1709, A.D., 
single him out as an outstanding leader of men. It was not only the 
Faujdars of these Subas whom he had to reckon with, but also to combat 
the combined onslaught of the army of the Mughal emperors and the 
rulers of different states of the then Indian polity. 

Banda Singh Bahadur had descended on Punjab to espouse the cause 
of the oppressed, the weak and the downtrodden. Immediately on 
reaching Kharkhoda, he had declared a "general war on all the 
oppressors of the people, and by attending in right earnest to the 
complaints of the aggrieved, he let them understand that he was their 
liberator commissioned by providence to release them from their 
centuries-old servitude". 13 From the very beginning, Banda Singh 
initiated his struggle against the Mughal state and the intermediary 
Zamindars. This made masses to sympathise with him as he was fighting 
for the redressal of their long overdue demands. Peasants, in particular, 
turned sympathisers and quite a big segment of them joined the Khalsa. 
The impact of this event on the farming community was at once deep 
and widespread because "they found in it their deliverance from the 
feudal vexations and political servitude of the Mughals". 14 Commenting 
on how Banda Singh Bahadur could rally people around him, Fauja 
Singh says that his "general promise at the very outset of his campaign 
to distribute the conquered lands among those who would fight for him, 
and his land reforms after the conquest of Sarhind, popularised his cause 
and made him the rallying point of the poor agricultural classes, thereby 
broadening the base of his movement. As a result, he was able to 
mobilise a huge mass of people for the execution of his grandiose 
plans". 15 

The movement of Banda Singh against the tyrants and oppressive 
Mughal officers and the Emperor, also had the active support of the vast 
majority of the Punjabi Hindus in addition to the Sikhs, who joined it in 
large numbers and for a time gave it the semblance of a Hindu resistance 
against the onslaught of Islam. This was particularly so in the years 
following the death of Guru Gobind Singh, when the Muslim ruling 



class exploited the religious sentiments of the Muslim masses against the 
Hindus and the Sikhs. 16 "Masses began to flock to the camp of Banda 
Singh Bahadur, men in arms came to join his colours, women to seek his 
blessings for their families. He preached sermons and gave benedictions. 
Having an avowed contempt for worldly goods, he gave away the 
offerings people placed before him. As stories of his piety and generosity 
spread, more men and money began to pour in." 17 In the same way, 
encouraged by the response, Banda Singh's open proclamation further 
swelled the number of his supporters. He had proclaimed general 
protection to anyone "threatened by thieves, dacoits or highway robbers, 
troubled by Mohammadan bigots, or in any way subjected to injustice or 
ill-treatment". In the absence of law and order, particularly in the 
villages, the poor heaved a sigh of relief and the masses began to pour 
into Banda Singh's camp. Banda Singh's liberal approach to men and 
matters, his purity and simplicity of character and conduct, his valour 
and coolness even in dire difficulties, made him champion of the 
downtrodden, irrespective of their caste, clan or religion. They also 
reciprocated these feelings in abundance and came forward to live and 
die with him. 

Commenting on the support to Banda Singh Bahadur by the 
populace of the then Punjab province, Muzaffar Alam 18 says that the Jats 
of Rohtak-Sonepat region extended him full support when he appeared 
near Kharkhanda. Besides, a large number of Jats of the parganas along 
either side of the Beas and the Ravi and the Shah Nahar (the royal canal), 
sympathised and acted in collusion with the Sikhs of Banda Singh. 19 The 
Jats of Bari Doab supplied arms and horses to Banda Singh Bahadur 
during the entire period of his struggle against the Mughals. Chakla 
Sarhind was the second largest and the most important region where 
Banda Singh Bahadur had a strong following, and this enabled him to 
make it the base for his operations beyond the Yamuna and the Beas. 
Even at moments of extreme difficulties when the Sikhs ran off into the 
hills he could depend on the supply of provisions for his army from 
Chakla Sarhind. In the words of Khafi Khan, it becomes clear that, with 
some exceptions, Banda Singh led predominantly the uprisings of the 
Jats. It is not without significance that the Jats were the dominant caste 
in some of the parganas where Banda Singh had support. 20 The question 
arises why did the Jats extend their support to Banda Singh Bahadur and 
to what religion did they belong, Muzaffar Alam says: "Our sources do 
not help us in identifying the religion of these Jats. They may or may not 
have been the followers of Guru Gobind Singh." 21 They extended 
support and cooperation to Banda Singh because "the Jats had begun to 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

displace the Khatris from the leadership in Sikh religion" by the sixth 
decade of the 17th century. Eventually with the extension of agricultural 
activities and establishment of the Khalsa, they renewed their attempts 
with added vigour. At the time of writing the Dabistan-i-Mazahib, its 
author noted that although the Gurus had been Khatri, "they have made 
the Khatris subservient to the Jats who are the lowest among the Vaishya. 
Thus, most of the big masands of the Gurus are Jats." 22 Banda Singh 
Bahadur-led Sikh uprising gave the Jats an opportunity not only to take 
over the leadership of the locality but also gave a chance to use their 
arms to replace the tyrannical local Mughal officials. 

The Mughal rule was subjected to a changed socio-economic 
conditions within the Empire, in particular what is called the Jagirdari 
crisis which was one of the fundamental problems of the decaying 
Empire. 23 The political needs of the Empire compelled the Emperor to 
make new recruitment from among the nobility in the Deccan and this 
resulted in a considerable increase in the numerical strength of the 
Jagirdars (nobility). The military needs of the Empire led to continued 
grants of mansabs to the newcomers. So a stage arrived when, though 
mansabs were awarded, Jagif& y could not be given. 24 Moreover, rise in the 
requirements of the ruling class without a corresponding rise in the 
agricultural production, resulted directly in the growth of economic 
pressure on the producing classes 25 The periodic transfer of Jagirs which 
was meant to prevent the nobles from forming local ties and becoming 
autonomous potentates, was rigidly adhered to throughout the reign of 
Aurangzeb. But this system of Jagir transfers led to oppression by the 
Jagirdars and this oppression made peasants or Jats very miserable and 
rebellious. 26 

The medieval Indian economy was basically rural agricultural and 
Punjab was an integral part of this economy 27 The Jagirdari crisis of the 
Mughal government also affected the Punjabi peasants who suffered 
from intense oppression and tyrannical system of the Jagirdars and scions 
of the ruling classes. The Zamindars or government officials responsible 
for the payment of fixed land revenue of the villages entrusted to them, 
had come to arrogate to themselves the position of absolute proprietors 
who could turn out the actual cultivator at their sweet will. 28 The 
authorities did not interfere in their internal arrangements so long as 
they paid their contributions regularly. They were free to exact any 
amount from the peasants or Jats who were practically reduced to the 
position of slaves. 29 These exactions from the peasantry were so 
repressive and arbitrary that they caused widespread discontent. Thus, 



seething with discontent and deprivation of their traditional rights in 
land, the Punjabi peasantry, fully conscious of the conditions, was 
awaiting a leadership to make a bid not merely to resist the oppressive 
and tyrannical authority of the Mughal bureaucratic structure, but also 
to establish an autonomous state on the traditional model. 30 Dr. Satish 
Chandra writes that the Sikhs endeavoured to establish "a . . . kind of 
equalitarian society with a peasant-clans-basis with heavy ethical 
overtones". 31 

It was at this juncture that Banda Singh Bahadur appeared as the 
political leader of the Khalsa with a motive to fight against the oppressive 
imperial officials. On reaching Punjab he perceived that only by 
mobilizing discontended peasantry could he succeed in his mission. He 
issued a proclamation offering protection to tillers of the soil and asked 
them to stop paying revenue to the government which could not save 
them from the clutches of landlords or Zamindars. The proclamation was 
like a spark in a highly inflammable situation. The peasantry of Malwa 
rose against the Zamindars and local officials. 32 These peasants always 
stood by him. With the support of these peasants Banda Singh achieved 
marvellous successes in his military exploits, and soon became the 
undisputed master of the territory from Sadhaura to Raikot and from 
Machhiwara and Ludhiana to Karnal. 33 After establishing a Sikh state, he 
abolished the Zamindari system. 3 * In his seven stormy years, Banda Singh 
changed the class structure of landholdings in the southern half of the 
big Muslim Zamindar families of Malwa and Jullundur Doab. Large 
estates were broken up into small holdings in the hands of the Sikhs or 
Hindu peasants which may be described as Riayah Khud Kashta peasants. 
Getting inspirations from Banda Singh's achievement, peasants of Doaba 
revolted and defeated the Mughal Faujdar at Rahon. Soon they captured 
Jullundur and Hoshiarpur and by the autumn 1710, A.D., they liberated 
whole of the Jullundur Doab. 35 The revolt spread across the Sutlej over 
the whole of Majha region. Within a short period, Punjab became like a 
surging sea of free peasantry with only two small Islands of Mughal 
authority in its midst — the capital city of Lahore and the Afghan town of 
Kasur 36 From Yamuna to the Ravi and beyond, the only person who 
mattered was Banda Singh, and the only power that commanded respect 
was that of the peasant armies. 37 

In the words of A.C. Banerji, Banda Singh's struggle was in some 
respect a class war, and was almost entirely a peasant movement. Under 
the movement, the Zamindars were ejected from their lands and the tillers 
of the soil became owners. The result was a sudden socio-economic 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

upheaval. 38 It may be mentioned that the creation of the Khalsa on the 
model of village panchayats provided an agency for making the masses 
conscious of the need to preserve their traditional social organisation, for 
launching a struggle against tyranny and oppression of the semi-feudal 
Mughal bureaucratic structure. During those days when the economic 
links were too weak to create a movement of the masses without 
leadership, it was essential to have a leader to rally round. The vacuum 
was filled by Banda Singh Bahadur. 

Thus the Jagirdari crisis left the peasants with no other alternative but 
to create a power structure which suited the immediate needs of the 
peasant society which, of course, was compatible with the Khalsa 
organisation. The latter was the source of inspiration and determined the 
course and character of the movement. Therefore, it may be said that the 
perceptions of the conditions of the masses and the tradition of the 
Khalsa to resist tyranny, complemented each other. These two factors 
integrated the Sikh peasants' struggle against the Mughal authority in 
the region during most of the 18th century. 

In the beginning, the trading community represented by the Khatris 
extended support to Banda Singh Bahadur and one of them named 
"Gulaboo" even sacrificed himself to enable Banda Singh to make good 
his escape from Lohgarh in 1710 A.D. Since the Khatris and the Jats had 
altogether divergent political and economic interests in the continued 
struggle against the Mughals, there arose rift amongst them. Whereas, 
the Jats were beneficiaries of the Sikh uprising in the sense that they 
finished off the oppressive intermediaries and became masters of their 
landholdings, the interests of. the Khatri merchants were closely linked 
with the continued political stability and maintenance of imperial 
authority. When the peasant uprising spearheaded by Banda Singh 
began to cause considerable loss to the trading and merchant class and 
the moneylenders, they began to extend support to the Mughals. The 
urban Khatris residing in important trading centres like Lahore, Sialkot, 
Bajwara, Haibatpur, Patti, Batala, Ropar, Samana, etc., financed the 
voluntary efforts of the pro-imperial elements to fight against Banda 
Singh Bahadur and his supporters. The services of the Khatris were duly 
acknowledged, and some of them like Suba Chand, Rattan Chand, 
Mohakam Singh, Bakht Mai and others were appointed to important 
positions in imperial services under Jahandar Shah and Farrukh Siyar. 39 

In addition to these Jats (peasants), the Banjaras — a class of grain 
dealers — also helped Banda Singh. They always tried to maintain the 



supply of provisions to Banda Singh's army even when they were 
besieged in a fort. 40 In the hills also, they supplied him with the needed 
provisions and also acted as informers for him. 41 Some Hindu faqirs, 
yogis, sanyasis and bairagis actively espoused the cause of Banda Singh by 
working as spies in the imperial camp and then conveying the news to 
Banda Singh Bahadur about the moves of the imperial forces before- 
hand. 42 Some unidentified people also extended help to the cause of 
Banda Singh Bahadur. It is reported that some people purchased horses 
and ammunition to be delivered to the Sikh rebels and they carried the 
same through the Kohistan. The Emperor ordered that immediate steps 
should be taken to check the movements of these spies and the 
foodgrains and ammunition to the rebels. "If captured, they should be 
punished." 43 

The oppressed Hindus looked upon Banda Singh as the champion of 
Hinduism and he was regarded by "the Hindu as the scourge of the 
tyrant Mughals sent by God to punish them for their crimes. Oppressed 
Hindus resorted to him for help which was willingly and efficiently 
given, a fact which had a great influence in promoting the growth of the 
Sikh power". 44 Same was true with the Muslim followers of Banda Singh 
Bahadur who extended them fullest security of life and property as well 
as ensured religious freedom to them. In fact, Banda Singh Bahadur was 
a man of the masses whom they obeyed ungrudgingly and blindly, and 
when he asked his followers to lay down arms, not one disobeyed him 
and piled up their arms before him and doors were opened unto the 
enemy to face sure death. 45 

Banda Singh Bahadur was a first-rate Sikh warrior of his times. He 
was a devoted military commander of the Khalsa. Commenting on Banda 
Singh as a warrior, Dr. Ganda Singh writes: "In the field of battle, he was 
one of the bravest and the most daring, sometimes to the extent of 
recklessness." 46 He had the gift of quick mental appraisal. In the 
battlefield, he could appreciate the situation very quickly, thus decide his 
objective and make out his plan at once. Having made a simple and 
straightforward plan, he executed it with speed, determination and 
vigour, without wasting a single minute. His speed, alertness, immediate 
dash in the battlefield, were some of the causes of his success. 

Banda Singh Bahadur had mastered the tactics and strategy of war of 
his time. His chief tactic was to assess the strength of the enemy first and 
then fight. He fought a battle only when he was sure of his superior 
strength and victory, and he preferred retreat and be on the defensive rather 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

than flee after fighting. To quote Karam Singh, historian: "His approach 
in the war was that if he did not have sufficient men for the fight, then 
he retreated before the fight. He preferred retreat to defeat in the battle. 
His retreat cannot be taken as flight, but it was his tactics of war." 47 

Another war tactic of Banda Singh was that he first appraised which 
side of the enemy was weak. Then he attacked them at their weak points 
which could turn the table in his favour. Similarly, surprise was another 
fundamental of war tactics in which Banda Singh was never wanting. In 
his battles with the imperial forces, he used to force surprise attacks. It 
was in pursuance of this object that the Sikhs under Banda Singh used 
to withdraw at times, giving an impression to the enemy that they were 
beating a retreat under the pressure of enemy forces. But when some 
imperial forces had followed Banda Singh and his fighters for 4 or 5 
miles, and were cut off from their main force, Banda Singh and his 
comrades used to turn around and fall upon the enemy, thus achieving 
the effects of a surprise attack. 

Commenting upon his war tactics, Bhai Sohan Singh writes: "In 
military tactics he was the genius of his times. He fought in an open 
field, when he considered his strength sufficient enough for an open 
encounter, otherwise he took shelter in a fort or shifted to the mountains. 
But, personally, he was so fearless that he always went forward amidst 
showers of shots and shells, never feeling in the least that his life was in 
danger." 48 

In his struggle against the Mughal rulers, Banda Singh observed 
another principle of war — no hostilities be commenced without trying 
the peaceful methods or without sending an ultimatum to the enemy. He 
had the principle of sending a messenger to his enemy, calling upon him 
to submit. On the latter 's refusal to do so, he launched an attack on 
him. 49 Thus, the success of the Sikhs under Banda Singh was chiefly due 
to their unhesitating dash and courage and strategy and tactics of which 
he, in his short career, never lost sight of. Banda Singh's leadership and 
his great successes proved a boon to the cause of Sikhism. It gave 
Sikhism a prestige and power which had never yet been associated with 
it. Those who had never heard the names of the Gurus were impressed 
by the victories of Banda Singh and joined his ranks in thousands. 50 Even 
the new entrants in his company were so overwhelmed by his qualities 
that they smilingly sacrificed everything including their lives as did 
Gulaboo 51 to save Banda Singh Bahadur's life during the siege of 
Sadhaura and Lohgarh by Bahadur Shah in 1710 A.D. This sacrifice, like 



that of thousands and thousands of others executed by the Mughals, 
speaks of the influence of Banda Singh's exemplary leadership and lofty 

The key to the success of Banda Singh's war tactics lay in cool 
planning, fearless moves, and aggressive strategy adopted by him 
against the soft and easy going leadership of the Mughal army. In 
addition to the guerilla type of warfare, called in Punjabi Dhai Phatt (two 
and a half strokes), Banda Singh's war tactics included features like 
surprise, mobility, concentration, economy of force, and security. His 
movements were like a storm and their very swiftness constituted the 
major element of surprise. 52 Banda Singh manoeuvred his offensive with 
a well-planned strategy which was based on speed and mobility. What 
he lacked in sinews of war, he made up by swift movements. Not 
unoften, his adversaries were struck down by his dashing charges even 
before they were aware of the danger facing them. 53 

Thus, Banda Singh's grand successes at Kaithal, Samana, Sadhaura, 
Sarhind, Saharanpur, Behat, Jalalabad and many other places speak 
volumes of his ability. He moved from one direction to another like a 
lightning. He was not dismayed by a reverse. He reorganised his forces 
as soon as he lost a battle. He possessed a wonderful capacity to face 
adverse situations. Many a time, he was found cutting through the 
enemy lines cleverly when he fell short of manpower or provisions, 
except at Gurdas Nangal where he surrendered instead. On this issue 
even a difference of opinion had occurred between Binod Singh and 
Banda Singh Bahadur, and ultimately Binod Singh left the Ahatta. He 
rode out of the enclosure and with sword in hand he cut through the 
besiegers all alone and was off in an instant. Thus, one thing is very 
surprising that when cutting through the enemy lines was good Sikh 
war tactic in emergencies, why was it abandoned at Gurdas Nangal? 
Why was not Baba Binod Singh's advice heeded? Surprisingly, the 
number of Sikh soldiers left were very small and the arms and 
ammunition which fell into the enemy hands, hardly justified the action 
of Banda Singh — not to leave the haveli. Dr. Ganda Singh writes: 
"Apparently the difference of opinion arose in a council of war over the 
proposal of evacuating the enclosure and following their old tactics of 
cutting through the enemy lines for a place of safety. Banda Singh, it 
seems, was not in favour of it, for reasons best known to him." So 
Dr. Ganda Singh's reason is not very convincing and there is a need for 
further research on the issue. But this issue does not find favour in the 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

contemporary sources. Some hypothesis can be developed using later 
sources in favour or against Banda Singh's decision. 

The ten Gurus enunciated principles and Guru Gobind Singh had set 
the seal of his sanction on the use of sword if the cause of justice and 
righteousness could not be otherwise vindicated. It must also be 
remembered that ideas are the essential basis for action. But behind ideas 
there must be men with the character and discipline to translate them 
into results. No one can be true to his mission or creed if he seeks 
satisfaction from mere brave ideas and in criticism of others who do not 
argue with him. That is the way of facile intellectual opportunism. Every 
achievement requires character and discipline and united action and 
readiness to sacrifice the individual self for the larger cause. Banda Singh 
removed the fear from the hearts of the downtrodden and gave them 
heart to strike against their oppressors. The following incident goes on 
to depict how much Banda Singh dared to transform the psychology of 
a sullen and terrified people. When a deputation of peasants called on 
him at Sadhaura, complaining against the tyrannies of Muslim 
Zamindars, he asked his bodyguard to shoot the complainants. When 
questioned respectfully as to how the aggrieved deserved such a 
treatment, he answered: "You are so many and your oppressors so few. 
Is it not a shame that instead of dispossessing them, you should make a 
grievance of your own helplessness?" The complainants did as they were 
bidden to. 55 And the examples of this type multiplied when the news 
spread like a wild fire in the villages of Punjab. Banda Singh is 
remembered with great honour and full respect not only by the Sikhs but 
also by all lovers of humanity and socio-economic and political justice. 
He was a patriot par excellence, a devout Sikh, and an ardent freedom- 
fighter. In the words of Ganda Singh: "Next to the Guru, Banda Singh 
was the first person to place before the Sikhs a practical demonstration 
of staunch nationalism and to teach them to sacrifice themselves 
smilingly at the altar of the Khalsa." 

The secret of his success, writes Dr. Ganda Singh, lay in his 
indomitable courage and unsurpassable activity, coupled with the 
invincible spirit and dogged tenacity of the Sikhs, which fully 
supplemented his meagre resources. These were, of course, backed by 
that strength and consistency which religious zeal alone could supply 
and which purity of motives and disinterested patriotism could only 
nourish. Even when reduced to extreme frustration, no sorrow and no 
disappointment could weigh him down, and he was always in Chardhian 
Kalan (an exalted spirit), as a Sikh would put it. 56 



Banda Singh Bahadur took the leadership of the Khalsa at a time 
when India was passing through a series of political convulsions after 
the death of Aurangzeb. In fact, the eighteenth century was a period of 
turmoil, struggle and serious conflicts in the history of India. In its first 
two decades, several war of successions were fought between the 
Mughal princes, leading to a deplorable state of affairs in the empire. 
During this period the centrifugal forces that had been kept under 
control so far, intensified their attempts to end the strong, unified but 
oppressive Mughal administration. Under the wave of regeneration and 
reaction, the Jats around Delhi, Agra, the Marathas in Maharashtra, and 
the Rajputs in Rajasthan revolted with added vigour and staked their 
claims for sovereignty in their respective regions and to play an 
important role in the ever-crumbling Mughal empire. So far as the Sikhs 
were concerned, they had made their presence felt earlier also, but it was 
Banda Singh Bahadur who turned their slowly germinating desire of 
attaining sovereignty to reality by capturing the major chunks of 
territory between the Sutlej and the Yamuna. Thus Banda Singh was able 
to establish a Sikh state, though for a short period of time. 

The most difficult and risky adventure to establish Sikh sovereignty 
to which Banda Singh had committed himself heart and soul, could only 
be successfully carried out had either the Mughal empire been extremely 
so weak or had he received close cooperation of all the sections of society 
of Punjab, including the neighbouring hill rulers. In this connection, 
Dr. Ganda Singh writes: "If he failed in his temporal achievement of 
maintaining the principality that he had carved out at the 
commencement of warlike career, it is because the Great Mughal was yet 
too strong for him with the inexhaustible temporal resources of the then 
greatest empire of the world at his disposal. Whether at Sadhaura, or at 
Gurdas Nangal, it was the overwhelming number and the extremes of 
hunger, want of food and fodder, that reduced him. About the 
implements and ammunition of war, the less said the better. Not only 
this, the Khalsa had to stand the brunt of the struggle single-handed. Not 
even a single prominent ruler from amongst the Hindus came out to 
render them any help whatever. On the other hand, leading Hindu chiefs 
like Raja Chhatarsal Bundela, Chauraman Jat, Gopal Singh Bhadauriya, 
Udet Singh Bundela, Badan Singh Bundela, Bachan Singh Kachhwaha, 
the Rajas of the Shiwalik hills and others were all arrayed against 
them." 57 

In the beginning of this movement, victories and dazzling successes 
were facilitated by the combined efforts of Banda Singh Bahadur and his 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

followers who had rallied after centuries of subjection to fight against 
their oppressors and to conquer. Banda Singh received help and support 
of almost all sections of society including the ruling elite such as big 
landlords, Zamindars, merchants, and even some rulers of the hill states 
of Punjab. As the imperial government took severe steps against the 
rebels and the revolt continued for longer time than expected, the 
merchants' and trading community's interests began to suffer and they 
changed their loyalty. Now they, including the Khatris in government 
service, big landlords and rulers of the hill states, began to extend full 
cooperation to the imperial forces in their efforts to tame Banda Singh 
and his associates. But, throughout the course of this struggle he derived 
strength from the toiling downtrodden and peasants, irrespective of their 
religious affiliation. But these people were not trained soldiers in regular 
warfare. As compared to the Mughal army, "his force was never superior 
to them numerically, nor had it the munition of war in plenty. Where the 
Mughal forces were armed with zamburaks, rathkalas and light and heavy 
guns, the Sikhs had spears, swords, Samjangee, and so on". Thus, with 
a small quantity of munitions and small number of men, it was difficult 
for Banda Singh and his comrades to continue the struggle. Commenting 
on the failure of the movement, Dr. Indu Banga says: "In spite of his 
being a competent strategist and a shrewd tactician, Banda Singh 
Bahadur proved unsuccessful in his bid against the imperial 
government. His failure was not due to any flaw in his generalship, but 
the other factors such as shortage of resources, the numerical 
disadvantage, organisational defects of the Sikhs, superiority of the 
Mughals in manpower and war material, defective army organisation 
under Banda Singh, and4he gradual alienation of upper classes from his 
cause." 58 

The Royal Mughal Court journal (Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Ma'ulla) 
contains several entries which help us discern the attitude of different 
' segments of the society towards the cause being espoused by him. An 
analysis of the news reports makes it clear that the Zamindars (chiefs) 
beyond the territory of Punjab did not cooperate with Banda Singh, 
notwithstanding their own disputes with the Mughal authorities in their 
respective areas. The Zamindars of Saharanpur actively supported the 
imperial forces in their effort to drive the Sikhs out of Yamuna-Ganga 
Doab. The Rajputs, the Gujjar and with some possible exceptions the 
Afghan Zamindars (chiefs) of the Sikh strongholds consistently supported 
the Mughal campaigns against Banda Singh. Isa Khan, a Mein Rajput 
Zamindar of Bist Jullundur, was appointed Deputy Faujdar of the Doab on 
account of his services to the Mughals against the Sikhs. The Khweshgi 



Afghans of Kasur were, likewise, honoured. The Afghans not only 
fought against Banda Singh but also served as propagandists of the 
Mughals trying to enlist the Muslim Zamindars and masses in the Jehad 
against non-Muslims. It was not surprising that the wrath of the Sikhs in 
some cases was directed particularly against the Afghans. 59 

Banda Singh had struggled hard to inspire his men to fight against 
the Mughal tyranny, but, in the end, he failed. Success is never a good 
measure to judge the greatness of a man. Greatness lies in the struggle. 
Those who fight for principles never measure the chances of success or 
failure in the worldly manner. The career of Banda Singh had greater 
promise in it than what was effected, but it was soon cut short. 
Externally, he may not appear to have succeeded in the emancipation of 
his people, but like Shivaji and Maharaja Suraj Mai and Guru Gobind 
Singh, he ignited the fire of independence in his region which, "though 
smothered for a time could not be extinguished". Though independence 
came to Punjab much later, it was Banda Singh Bahadur who first taught 
the Punjabis to fight, conquer and establish their independent rule in 
Punjab after centuries of subjection. It was because of the exploits of 
Banda Singh that "a will was created in the ordinary masses of the 
Punjab to resist tyranny and to live and die for a national cause". And 
it was the result of this will that the Hindus and the Sikhs together drove 
out the Afghans and the Mughals in 1763-64 A.D. out of their homeland 
and thus achieved freedom which they had come to regard as their birth 

Though Banda Singh met with a tragic end, and for a few years after 
his death the Sikhs were hunted out, he occupies a very high place in the 
history of Punjab. Guru Gobind Singh's mission to be served through 
Banda Singh cannot be said to have failed. In this connection, Payne 
writes: "The mission of Guru Gobind Singh had not failed. Scattered and 
disorganised though they (Sikhs) were without a leader (after Banda 
Singh), without a square of land they could call their own, the Sikhs 
were nearer to nationality at this time than they had ever been. Hardship 
and persecution had served only to strengthen their attachment to their 
faith and to draw them into yet closer unity. They now regarded 
themselves as distinct people. They believed in their destiny, as foretold 
by Guru Gobind Singh, and the one determination from which they 
never swerved was to struggle unceasingly for the triumph of the 

According to Ganda Singh, Banda Singh was the first man to deal a 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

severe blow to the intolerant rule of the Mughals in Punjab and to turn 
the first sod in the conquest of that province by the Sikhs. Although it 
was forty years after his death that the capital of Lahore was occupied 
by the Khalsa, and a regular Sikh Badshahat was declared with Sardar 
Jassa Singh Ahluwalia as Padshah, it was Banda Singh Bahadur who laid 
the foundation of the Sikh empire in 1710 A.D. 61 Paying his tribute to 
Banda Singh/ the author of Banda the Brave writes: "Banda Singh died like 
a true and gallant warrior and had before his death most admirably 
accomplished the noble task the tenth Guru had entrusted him with." 62 
I would like to sum up with the memorable words of Dr. Ganda Singh: 
"His (Banda Singh) name shall ever remain writ large on the roll of 
immortality for his selfless sacrifices in the sacred cause of persecuted 
humanity and for his martyrdom with unflinching devotion to God and 
the Guru." 63 

Notes and References 

1. Gupta, Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs, Vol. II, p. 36. 

2. Tarikh-i-Iradat Khan, p. 146. Harisi, Ibratnamah, p. 62. Kanwar Khan, op. cit., pp. 
179-80. William Irvine, op. cit., pp. 318-19. 

3. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 36. 

4. Karam Singh, Banda Bahadur, Amritsar, 1907, p. 193. 

5. Sohan Singh, Banda the Brave, Lahore, 1915, p. 151. 

6. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 195. 

7. M'Gregor W.L., The History of the Sikhs, London, 1846, p. 111. 

8. Malcolm, John, History of the Sikhs, London, 1812, p. 79. 

9. Narang, G.C., op. cit., New Delhi, 1960, pp. 111-12. 

10. Gupta, Hari Ram, op. cit., p. 38. 

11. Ibid., p. 37. 

12. Jagjit Singh, The Sikh Revolution — A Perspective View, quoted by Raj Pal Singh, op. 
cit., p. 89. 

13. Fauja Singh, "Some Critical Periods of Sikh History," The Punjab, Past and Present, 
Vol. XI-IL October 1977, p. 331. 

14. S.S. Gandhi, quoted by Raj Pal Singh, op. cit., p. 382. 

15. Fauja Singh, op. cit., p.. 382. 

16. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 98. 

17. Ibid., p. 103. 



18 Muzaffar Alam, Sikh Uprisings under Banda Singh Bahadur, 1708-1715 A.D., the 
Punjab Past and Present, Vol. XVI, 1 April 1982, p. 98. 

19. Ibid., p. 96. 

20. Ibid., p. 96. 

21. Ibid., p. 95. 

22. Punjab Past and Present, Vol. I, Part I, April 1967, p. 57. 

23. Satish Chandra, Parties and Politics at the Mughal Court, Delhi, 1972, p. XLIX. 

24. M. Athar Ali, op. cit., p. 173. 

25. Satish Chandra, op. cit., p. XLVL 

26. M. Athar Ali, op. cit., p. 172. 

27. Niharranjan Ray, The Sikh Gurus and Sikli Society, Patiala, Punjabi University, 1970, 
p. 108. 

28. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs, Patiala, Punjabi 
University, 1989, p. 83. 

29. Ibid., p. 87. 

30. Inderjit Singh, The Sikhs and Indian Economy, Journal of Sikh Studies, Dept. 
G.N.S., G.N.D. Univeristy, Amritsar, Vol. I, No. 2, 1974, p. 54. 

31. Satish Chandra, op. cit., p. 51. 

32. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., Vol. I, Delhi 1987, p. 108. 

33. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 67. 

34. Ibid., p. 71. 

35. Khushwant Singh, op. cit., p. 118. 

36. Ibid., p. 109. 

37. Ibid. 

38. A.C. Banerji, The Khalsa Raj, Delhi, 1985, p. 33. 

39. Satish Chandra, op. cit., p. 68. Also see Harpreet Kaur, "Analysis of the Liberation 
Movement under Banda Singh Bahadur against the Mughals", in The Punjab, Past 
and Present, October 1983. Also see Muzaffar Alam, op. cit., pp. 170-75. 

40. Khafi Khan, Elliot and Dowson, History of India as Told by Its Own Historians, 
Vol. VII, p. 454. 

41. Akhbarat, dated August 10, 1714 A.D. and July 3, 1715 A.D. 

42. Ibid., dated July 3, 1715 A.D. 

43. Ibid. 

44. Narang, G.C., op. cit., p. 103. 

45. Gopal Singh, op. cit., p. 356. 

46. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 252. 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

47. Karam Singh, op. cit., p. 199. 

48. Sohan Singh, Banda the Brave, p. 151. 

49. This can be corroborated from the writings of Karam Singh, historian. 

50. G.C. Narang, op. cit., p. 111. 

51. According to Khafi Khan, Gulaboo was a tobacco dealer in the Mughal army that 
invaded Lohgarh under Bahadur Shah. 

52. Fauja Singh, op. cit., p. 386. 

53. Ibid., pp. 386-87. 

54. Dr. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 172. He quoted Sarup Chand, Mahma Prakash, Karam 
Singh, op. cit., p. 126-77. Macauliffe, op. cit., p. ,252. 

55. Gopal Singh, op. cit., p. 357. 

56. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 208. 

57. Ibid., p. 209. 

58. Indu Banga, "Formation of Regional State in Medieval India — a Study of Punjab under 
Sikh Rule". Proceedings of Indian History Congress 43rd session, Kurukshetra, 
1982, p. 824. Also see Fauja Singh, "Some Critical Period of Sikh History", Punjab 
Past and Present, Vol. XI-II, October 1977, p. 331. 

59. Muzaffar Alam, "Sikh uprisings under Banda Bahadur, 1708-1715 A.D.", in The 
Punjab, Past and Present, Vol. XVI-I, April, 1982, p. 98. 

60. Payne, C.H., A Short History of the Sikhs, p. 47. 

61. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 286. 

62. Sohan Singh, op. cit., p. 152. 

63. Ganda Singh, op. cit., p. 257. 




Family Tree of Banda Singh Bahadur 






















1. The Holy Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded 
(Dufing day time). 

2. The Holy Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded 
(During night time). 

3. Gurudwara Banda Ghat, Nanded. 

4. Facade, Gurudwara Banda Ghat, Nanded. 

10. A way to the Fort of Lohgarh. 

12. Morcha No. I, Fort of Lohgarh. 

14. The author and Nihang Singh of the Gurudwara, coming down 
from the Fort of Lohgarh. 

16. Remnants of the Morcha, Fort of Lohgarh. 


20. Late Dr. Ganda Singh (Historian) and his team of- surveyors including 
Late Principal Gurcharan Singh and Dr. Mohinder Singh studying the 
foundation of Lohgarh Fort in 1969 A.D. 

22. Dera Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Reasi (J & K). 





24. Canopy of Dera Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Reasi (J & K). 

26. Painting of Guru Gobind Singh and his disciples on one of the walls 
of Dera Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Reasi (J & K). 

of Dera Sahib, Reasi 
(J & K) 

30. Beri tree in the 
courtyard of Dera Sahib, 

where Banda Singh 
Bahadur used to meditate 
on Nam-Simran. 

32. Baba Jatinder Pal 
Singh [Gaddi Nashin) in 
front of the Samadhi of 
Baba Ranjit Singh, Dera 
Reasi (J & K). 

34. Mughal Paintings on the inner walls of Bangla Sahib or Samadhi 
Baba Ranjit Singh, Dera Sahib, Reasi (J & K). 


36. Weapons of Banda Singh Bahadur at Dera Sahib, Reasi (J & KJ 
(1) Gurj, (2) Sri Sahib, (3) Khanda, (4) Kirch. 

38. Baba Sardul Singh, 9th 
Gaddi Nashin, Dera Banda 
Singh Bahadur, 
Reasi (J & K). 

40. Gurudwara, Haveli Bhai Duni Chand, Langar Hall and 
Sarovar at Gurdas Nangal. 

42. Entrance gate to the 
Dargah Khawaja Qutab-ud- 
Din Bakhtlyar Kakl, 
Mehraull, Delhi. 

44. Facade of the 
Gurudwara 'Shaheedi 
Asthcui, Mehrauli, Delhi. 

48. New Gurudwara 
ShaheediAsthan, Banda 
Singh Bahadur and its 
Bhaiji, Mehrauli, Delhi. 



Abdul Aziz, The Mansabdari System and Mughal Army, Lahore. 

Abul Fazal, Akbar Nama, translated into English by H. Beveridge in three 
Vols. 1904. 

Ahuja, N.D., The Great Guru Nanak and the Muslims, Chandigarh, 1970. 

Ajit Singh and Rajinder Singh, Studies in Guru Nanak, Delhi, 1984. 

Ajit Singh, Facets of Guru Nanak's Thought, Ludhiana, 1972. 

Akbar, Muhammad, The Punjab under the Mughals, Delhi, 1974. 

Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Ma'ulla, Mss (per) Rajasthan State Archives, 
translated into English by Dr. Bhagat Singh, The Punjab, Past and 
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270 Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

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Abul Fazl, 16 
Adi Granth, 4, 18 
Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh, 94 
Akakam-e-Alamgiri, 78 
Akal-bunga, 28 
Akal Takht, 28-29 
Akbar, 16 

Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Ma'ulla, 131, 148 
Aman-al-dahar, 152 
Archer, John Clark, 91 
Arjan Mai, 31 
Aurangzeb, 42, 247 

Baba Budha, 28 

Babur, 7 

Bagaris, 50 

Bahadur, Guru Teg, 5 

Bahadur Shah and Guru Gobind Singh, 

1707 A.D.-1708 A.D., 87 
Bahadur Shah and the Sikhs, 182 
Bairagi, Madho Das, 87 
Bakhshi, Gulab Singh, 227 
Banda the Brave, 176 
Bandi Chhor Baba, 33 
Banerji, A.C., 8, 13, 241 
Banga, Indu, 248 
Battle of Kartarpur, 1635 A.D., 37 
Battle of Amritsar, 35 
Battle of Khidrana, 1705 A.D., 85 
Battle of Hargobindpur, 1630 A.D., 36 
Battle of Lahra and Gurusar, 1634 A.D., 


Battle of Phagwara, 1635 A.D., 38 

Beg, Khalil, 36 

Beg, Nawab Jaffar, 11 

Bhai Bhagtu, 122 

Bhai Jetha, 13 

Bhakti, 4 

Bibi Viro, 35 

Bichitra Natak, 2 

Bidhi Chand, 37 

Bukhari, Shaikh Farid, 21, 30 

Bundela, Udet Singh, 186, 247 

Chand, Raja Kirpal, 84 
Chappar-Chiri, 130 
Chardhian Kalan, 246 
Chaubarah, 85 
Chaudharis, 14 
Chhabra, G.S., 112 
Chin, Amin Khan, 222 

Dabistan-i-Mazahib, 240 
Dadu Duara, 115 
Darogha-i-Topkhana, 204 
Das, Bhai Mati, 5 
Das, Dyal, 48 
Das, Mahant Kirpal, 62 
Daswandh, 120 
Datan Sahib, 85 
Deol,.G.S., 149, 187 
Deo, Raja Narsing, 43 . 
Dev, Lachhman, 112 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Deva, Mata Sahib, 121 
Deyell, John, 150 
Dhai Phatt, 245 
Dharma Yudha, 39 
Dhirmalias, 54 
Dhukhdhuki, 89 
Diwan-i-Khas, 203 
Doaba, 19 

Early Years of Banda Singh Bahadur, 112 
Establishment of Sikh State, 144 

Fani, Mohsin, 36 
Fateh Darshan, 147 
Fateh Nama, 80 

First Period, 1675 A.D. - 1699 A.D., 57 
Conflict with Kahlur, 57 
First Battle of Anandpur, 1682 A.D., 

Second Battle of Anandpur, 1685 
A.D., 57 

Battle of Bhangani, 1689 A.D., 61 
Battle of Nadacun, 1690 A.D., 64 
Rustam Khan's Expedition against 
the Guru, 1691 A.D., 65 
Expedition of Hussain Khan, 1693 
A.D., 65 

Battle between 1694-96 A.D., 66 
Expedition of Jujahar Singh, 1697 
A.D., 67 

Prince Muazzam's march into the 
Hills, 1698 A.D., 67 
Battle with Alam Chand and Balia 
Chand, 68 

Fortification of Anandpur, 68 

Gayatri Mantra, 12 
Gobind Rai, 46 

Gobind Rai Nanak Prastan, 86 

Godly Imam, 20 

Gupta, Hari Ram, 24, 93, 237 

Gurbani, 12 

Gurgaddi, 18 

Gurmukhi, 17 

Guru Amar Das, 1552 A.D. - 1574 A.D., 8 
Guru Angad Dev, 1539 A.D. - 1552 A.D., 


Guru Arjan Dev, 1581 A.D. - 1606 A.D., 5, 

Guru Gobind Singh and Aurangzeb, 1675 

A.D. - 1707 A.D., 53 
Guru Granth Sahib, 17 
Guru Hargobind, 1606 A.D. - 1645 A.D., 


Guru Har Krishan, 1661 A.D. - 1664 A.D., 

Guru Har Rai, 1645 A.D. - 1661 A.D., 40 
Guru Nanak, 1 

Guru Ram Das, 1574 A.D. - 1581 A.D., 9, 
14 1 

Guru Tegh Bahadur, 1664 A.D. - 1675 
A.D., 42 

Hadiquat-i-aqalim, 149, 155 
Haidri Flag, 173 
Hari Mandir, 28 

Haveli of Bhai Duni Chand, 215 
Hindu Society, 10 
History of Jahangir, 25 
Holy Deliverer, 33 
Hukamnamas, 119 
Humayun, 7 

Ibrat Nama, 216 

Ijad, Muhammad Ahsan, 47 

Irvine, William, 148 

Jahangir 's Hatred for the Guru, 22 
Jalal-ud-Din, 125 
Jodha Bai, 21 

Kachhwaha, Raja Jai Singh, 182 
Kam Baksh, 124 
Kaur, Bibi Sahib, 213 
Kaur, Chamba Shushil, 219 
Kaur, Krishan, 41 
Khalifa, 57 
Khalsa Panth, 155 
Khalsa Raj, 161 

Khalsa Sahib Bolo ji Wahiguru, 134 

Khalsa Sangat, 89 

Khan, Abd-us-Samad, 211 

Khan, Alif, 72 

Khan, Asaf, 34 



Khan, Aslam, 179 

Khan, Baqa Beg, 210 

Khan, Bhikan, 63 

Khan, Ghulam Nabi Quli, 184 

Khan, Hussain, 66 

Khan, Inayatullah, 78 

Khan, Jamshed, 92 

Khan, Kale, 60 

Khan, Mir, 7 

Khan, Mohammad Amin, 181 

Khan, Mukhlis, 35 

Khan, Munim, 87 

Khan, Murtza, 23 

Khan, Nawab Iytikhar, 46 

Khan, Painda, 35 

Khan, Qazi Rustam, 34 

Khan, Rustamdil, 192 

Khan, Shayista, 56 

Khan, Sulhi, 19 

Khan, Umar, 60 

Khan Wazir, 33, 76 

Khan, Zabardast, 75 

Khan, Zain-ud-din Ahmad, 303 

Khybri Pathans, 170 

Kshatriya, 234 

Lai, Bhai Nand, 89 
Langar, 10 
Latif, S.M., 6 
Lodi, Sikandar, 31 

Macauliffe, Max Arthur, 26, 112 
Maclagan, Edward, 117 
Mahabharata, 60 
Mahma Prakash, 11 
Majaddid Alif Sard, 20 
Majha, 19 

Mai, Maharaja Suraj, 249 
Mansabdari, 31 
Mantras, 10 
Marwaha Khatri, 11 
Masand, 29 
Masir-e-Alamgiri, 43 
Mata Sundari, 82 
Meharban, 30 
Mewati, Feroz Khan, 183 

Mian Mir, 25 
Mirat-i-Waridat, 234 
Mohammad, Nawab Sher, 129 
Mahsin Fani, 31 
Mughal Faujdar, 168 
Muzaffar Alam, 239 

Naina Devi, 58 
Namdev, 18 
Nand, Wazir Parma, 61 
Narang, G.C., 5 
Nawab Kapoor, 94 
Nishan Sahib, 119 

Pangat, 8 
Pathans, 29 
Payne, C.H., 26 
Peshkar, 122 
Phuta Shahr, 169 

Post-Khalsa Period, 1699 A.D. - 1708 
A.D., 69 

First Battle of Anandpur, 1699 A.D., 

Second Battle of Anandpur, 1699 
A.D., 70 

Battle of Nirmoh, 1700 A.D., 71 
Battle of Basali, 1700 A.D., 72 
First Battle of Chamkaur 1702 A.D., 

Third Battle of Anandpur, 1703 A.D., 

Fourth Battle of Anandpur, 1703 
A.D., 73 

Battle of Kiratpur, 1704 A.D., 74 

Fifth and the Last Battle of 

Anandpur, 1704 A.D., 74 

Battle of Bachhora Sahib, 1704 A.D., 


Second Battle of Chamkaur 1704 

A.D., 77 
Prachin Pothi, 166 
Prakash, Raja Medni, 59 
Prince Khusrau, 21 

Prince Khusrau Meets Guru Arjan, 21 
Prithia, 16 
Prithi Mai, 17 
Pucca Garhi, 204 


Banda Singh Bahadur and Sikh Sovereignty 

Qadam-ud-Din, 127 
Qashqa, 23 
Qatalgarhi, 128 
Qila Bhagwant Rai, 174 
Quran, 83 

Qutab-ul-Aqtab, 127 

Rai, Raja Rattan, 58 

Raja Mansingh of Kullu, 190 

Ramayana, 60 

Ram Raeyyas, 54 

Ranjit Nagara, 58 

Ravidas, 18 

Relations under Guru Nanak, 1469 A.D. - 

1539 A.D., 1 
Religion and Short History of the Sikhs, 


Riayah Khud Kashta, 241 

Rise of Sikh Power in the Panjab, 167 

Rising in Jullundur Doab, 175 

Rising in Majha, 172 

Rising of the Sikhs, 166 

Rohilla, Jaial Khan, 133 

Sacha Padshah, 29, 46, 147 
Sadhana, 18 
Sangats, 15 

Sarhindi, Shaikh Ahmad, 22 
Sati, 9 

Sat Sri Akal, 132, 177 
Scott, G.S., 224 
Sat-Yuga, 189 
Shabads, 6 
Shah, Bahadur, 244 
Shah, Chandu, 20, 30 
Shah, Jahandar, 209 
Shah, Pir Budhu, 63 
Shahi Nahar, 215 

Shahnama Munawwar Kalam, 149, 227 

Shivaji, 51 

Sidh Anunia, 114 

Sikh Gurus and Mughal Emperors, 1 
Singh, Ajit, 24 
Singh, Baj, 223 

Singh, Bhai Mani, 86 

Singh, Bhai Peshaura, 123 

Singh, Ganda, 146 

Singh, Gurbaksh, 10 

Singh, Guru Gobind, 1, 117 

Singh, Jujhar, 79 

Singh, Karam, 235 

Singh, Khazan, 27 

Singh, Maha, 86 

Singh, Mirza Raja Ram, 41-42 

Singh, Raja Mohkam, 205 

Singh, Raj Pal, 118 

Singh, Santokh, 8 

Singh, S. Khushwant, 178 

Singh, Teja, 27 

Siyar, Farrukh, 200, 209 

Sri Guru Sobha, 88 

Struggle against Jahandar Shah, 200 

Succession of Shah Jahan, 34 

Sukhmani, 49 

Suraj Prakash, 131 

Tamasha-i-Qatal, 223 
Tarikh-i-Muhammad Shahi, 224 
Tazkirat-ul-Salatin, 186 
Thanda Burj, 81 
Tibi Sahib, 85 

Two Younger Sons of the Guru Executed, 

1704 A.D., 81 
Tyag Mai, 38 

Vaishnava Bairagi, 113 

Wahiguru ji ki Fateh, 131 
Wand Shakna, 225 

Yamuna-Ganga Doab Region, 166 
Yogic Granth, 114 

Zafar Nama, 83 
Zamindar, 14 

Zamindaran-i-Zortalab, 157 
Zamindari System, 158